Johnson's Russia List
27 April 2003
A CDI Project

  2. Interfax: Some 63,000 believers attended Easter services at Moscow 
churches last night.
  4. Los Angeles Times: David Holley, Russian Gene Bank Faces Eviction.
Keepers of the unique seed collection are fighting the order to prevent its 
  5. The Yomiuri Shimbun: Hiroyuki Fuse, Russia stumbles to regain prestige. 
  6. Rosbalt: Russians Overwhelmingly Support Government Position on Iraq War.
  7. Financial Times (UK): Arkady Ostrovsky, Speaking Volumes. (re
  8. The Observer (UK): Moscow's most wanted man. Billionaire Boris
remains defiant about efforts by his native Russia to extradite him on fraud 
charges. But he still fears the assassin's bullet, reports Nick Kochan.
  9. UPI: Elizabeth Manning, Chernobyl legacy lingers.
  10. AFP: Russian army puts up stiff resistance to end of draft.
  11. Fred Harrison: SARS.
  12. Interfax: Chechnya's rebuilding ineffective - chief Russian auditor.
  13. The Sunday Telegraph (UK): Tom Parfitt, Russia strips 'untouchable' 
drivers of their sirens.
  14. Financial Times (UK): Andrew Jack, OGI, Moscow. (re literary cafe) 
  15. The Guardian (UK): Travel: Russia: Storming the Winter Palace: Next
St Petersburg celebrates its 300th anniversary. Security affairs editor
Norton-Taylor spends an exhausting but exhilarating weekend tracking down its 
tsarist and revolutionary past.
  16. BBC Monitoring: Russia returns to the top of the world after lengthy 
absence - TV report. (Arctic)
  17. Reuters: Tsar's freakshow helps fight Russian alcoholism.
  18. The Economist (UK): A good man murdered. (re Yushenkov)
  19. The Economist (UK): More power to them. (re oil merger)
  20. Newsweek International: Eve Conant, Moscow in the Money. Russia is 
buzzing over big oil deals, and good times.
  21. Wall Street Journal Europe: Vladimir Socor, In Case You Missed This 
Mega-Deal. (re Caspian energy resources)]



MOSCOW, April 27 /RIA Novosti correspondent Olga Lipich/ - This Sunday,
April 27, Orthodox Christians are celebrating the Holy Resurrection of
Jesus Christ, the greatest religious feast. 

On the night of April 26-27 festive paschal services begin in all Orthodox
churches at about 23:00. 

At midnight, with the chime of bells, the clergy and parishioners with
lighted candles in their hands hold a religious procession. While
glorifying the Lord, they go out of the church as if towards the Savior,
circle around outside of the church and stop in front of the closed doors,
as if in front of the entrance to the Tomb of the Lord. When the doors are
opened, the faithful enter the church and the paschal chanting begins. 

The paschal matins are followed by the Divine Liturgy and the consecration
of artos, special bread depicting the cross or the Resurrection of Jesus
Christ (it is kept at the church until next Saturday when it is given out
to the faithful.) From the Day of Pascha to the day of Ascension, which is
celebrated on the 40th day after Pascha, the believers greet each other
with the following words: "Christ is arisen!" - "He has truly arisen!"
After the paschal service the faithful break the fast, eating consecrated
kuliches (Paschal cakes), painted eggs and baked paskha (normally prepared
from cottage cheese). 

In compliance with the religious canons, in the second half of the day of
Christ's Resurrection, the great paschal evening service in conducted in
churches. In Moscow Patriarch Alexiy II will head the service in the Church
of Christ the Savior (at 16:00). 

Pascha will be followed by the Holy Week. During the entire week paschal
services will be conducted, and after each Divine Liturgy a religious
procession will take place. The holy doors remain open because it is
believed that on these days the holy heavenly world opens to Orthodox


Some 63,000 believers attended Easter services at Moscow churches last night

MOSCOW. April 27 (Interfax) - About 63,000 Muscovites attended Easter
services at Moscow churches from 8 p.m. Saturday, until 6 a.m. on Sunday. 
   From 8 a.m. through 8 p.m. on Saturday, about 146,000 people visited
Moscow cemeteries, churches and monasteries, the Moscow police announced. 
   Policemen guarded nearly all of Moscow churches and cemeteries. 
   Easter services were conducted at 440 Moscow churches and chapels. Of
the 560 Moscow churches, 30 have not yet resumed services; 34 church
buildings still accommodate secular organizations and 52 churches are under



MOSCOW, April 27 /RIA Novosti/ - Russian President Vladimir Putin has
congratulated Orthodox Christians and the followers of other Christian
confessions in Russia with Christ's Holy Resurrection, the press-service of
the head of state has told RIA Novosti. 

The text of the congratulation says as follows: "I congratulate heartily
Orthodox Christians and the followers of other Christian confessions of the
Russian Federation with the Holy Resurrection of Christ! 

The state highly values the activity of the Russian Orthodox Church, the
religious organizations of other Christian confessions traditional for
Russia, which is aimed at fostering mutual understanding and tolerance in
society, the strengthening of the family and the upbringing of the younger
generation. The wide celebration of the Easter is the visible proof of the
rebirth of the centuries-long Christian traditions in our country. 

Let this spring holiday enter your homes with peace and love, the hope and
the good. I wish with all my heart Orthodox Christians and all those who
are celebrating today the Holy Resurrection of Christ strong health,
happiness and well-being." Vladimir Putin has also sent his greetings with
the Holy Easter to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexiy II. The
message, in particular, says as follows: "I would like to note your
considerable contribution to the rebirth of the life of the Russian
Orthodox Church and the development of state and religious relations.
Today, with your active participation, the Church and the state continue to
cooperate actively in the sphere of culture and education, enlightenment
and charity. Your high authority as a religious figure and your rich
pastor's experience contribute to the settlement of many social and moral
problems of society, the preservation of peace and accord. 


Los Angeles Times
April 27, 2003
Russian Gene Bank Faces Eviction
Keepers of the unique seed collection are fighting the order to prevent its
By David Holley, Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Scientists here at one of the world's largest gene
banks starved to death during the 900-day siege of Leningrad, as this city
was then known, rather than consume their collection's priceless seeds.

At the time, Nikolai Vavilov, the institute's highly respected leader and
most significant collector, had already been arrested after running afoul
of a quack geneticist who caught the ear of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Vavilov, whose name the institute now bears, died in prison in 1943.

The government-sponsored N. I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry
survived these and other blows, including sharp funding cuts in the early
1990s. But now it is battling a new threat that it claims could hurt its
collection more than anything that came before: a central government decree
ordering it to hand over its two grand but rundown main buildings, located
on one of this city's most picturesque squares, for other uses by the
federal government. 

A move would inevitably result in the destruction of a significant portion
of the institute's 330,000 genetically different samples, says Viktor
Dragavtsev, its director, who is fighting in court to block the eviction
order. Many of the varieties are traditional food plants or their wild
cousins from remote places around the world, where it is now virtually
impossible to find or gather new samples. 

The collection, gradually built up since 1894, is maintained by the
periodic resowing of crops in special fields and greenhouses across Russia.
It includes several billion seeds — most in small packets labeled only with
codes, many of them frozen.

Even if an appropriate new facility was available, the labor-intensive
process of moving the frozen part of the collection while trying to keep
seeds from defrosting would take five to six years, Dragavtsev contends.
Many seeds would be destroyed, and the institute would lose track of the
identity of others, he says.

"When these packages are moved, they will absolutely for sure be dropped
and spilled," he said. "And on a package, there's only a code. It can't be
ruled out that codes will be confused."

Collections like the Vavilov's are a key repository of the genetic
diversity required for the development of new crops with greater resistance
to diseases or pests, higher nutritional value, or other desired improvements.

"Every day, 250,000 babies are born on the planet," Dragavtsev said. "By
2015, the population on Earth will be 8.5 billion people Gene banks are the
main guarantee of food security in the world."

The latest threat to the gene bank emerged in December, when Russian Prime
Minister Mikhail M. Kasyanov signed a decree ordering the occupants of four
buildings on St. Isaac's Square to relocate "in order to effectively
accommodate federal administrative offices in St. Petersburg and provide
effective state control over the use of unique historical monuments."

No provisions were made for a new home for the Vavilov institute.

Dragavtsev argues that local officials who hope to make money from the
buildings' conversion were behind the decree.

"I'm not convinced that Kasyanov actually knew that the plant-growing
institute was located in this building when he was signing that document,"
he said.

In fighting back, Dragavtsev doesn't hesitate to cite the institute's mix
of misfortune and great contributions to science. He easily rattles off six
occasions when the institute faced serious blows, starting with the 1930s'
rise of Trofim Lysenko to a position of dominance in Soviet agricultural

Lysenko's ideas about plant genetics were always scorned by mainstream
scientists, but he won Stalin's support with his ideological language and
promises of quick results in developing improved crops — ideas that were
enforced through political repression and had a devastating effect on
Soviet agricultural productivity.

Vavilov became the leader of scientists who dared stand up to him.

"Lysenko branded Vavilov as the enemy of socialist agricultural
principles," Dragavtsev said. Vavilov was arrested in 1940 and died three
years later while still a prisoner. Of about 80 of his colleagues who were
also arrested, half were executed by firing squad or died in prison,
Dragavtsev says.

Meanwhile, invading Nazi forces laid siege to Leningrad.

"The staff of the institute was evacuated to the Urals Fifty staffers
stayed behind at the plant industry institute," Dragavtsev said. "So they
had packs of seeds right in front of them on their desks. But they didn't
take a single seed, and 14 of them starved to death. But they managed to
preserve the collection at the expense of their lives. It's a very tragic

Dmitri V. Pavlov, a Soviet food-supply official in Leningrad during the
siege, wrote about the institute scientists in a 1965 book, "Leningrad
1941: The Blockade."

"Hardly able to move their feet, they came to the institute every day to
work," he wrote. "The fate of the collection depended on their
self-control. The proximity to grain and the duty of caring for it in the
name of the future while slowly dying of starvation was inhuman torture.
But by their solidarity and single-mindedness, the Vavilov collection,
which took years to put together, was preserved for science and the future."

Pavlov calculates that 31 institute employees died directly or indirectly
of hunger.

Three years after the war, ideologically driven disaster struck again.

"The Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences had a session where
real genetics was branded as a pseudo-science typical of the bourgeoisie,"
Dragavtsev said. "So the best scientists at this institute were fired. A
number of them were arrested, and it was a tragedy again. It was only
starting with 1957 that the institute began to regain its authority and

Then, in the early 1990s, another blow landed as the Soviet Union collapsed
and funds for the institute were slashed. The United States and other
countries donated money and equipment, such as freezers, to help with the
storage of seeds.

"It's only due to the financial and material assistance rendered by the
United States, Great Britain, Canada, Germany and Australia that we've
managed to survive," Dragavtsev said.

The next attack, he said, came two years ago, when some St. Petersburg
officials decided to take over a graduate student hostel belonging to the
institute. In describing that battle, Dragavtsev relates a tale only too
typical of the mix of business, politics and criminality across
contemporary Russia.

"Tough guys with close-cropped hair came in Mercedeses and used crowbars to
dislodge the padlocks and break the doors open, entered the building and
took it," he said. "They put in new locks and actually told me not to come
any closer to the building than [80 feet]."

Dragavtsev's deputy, however, was a retired admiral, and the two decided to
fight back.

"So he telephoned and, in a matter of hours, he had two busloads of
marines," Dragavtsev said. "I asked the marines to take all the people who
were in the building at that time — the new 'owners' — and throw them in
that puddle in the street. And they were thrown out.

"After that, I hired 15 veterans of the Afghan war. They guarded the
buildings for three months We won three court hearings at the court of
arbitration and managed to defend our right to have that hostel."

But Dragavtsev believes that this victory carried a bitter price, leading
directly to the current crisis.

"These guys who tried to capture the hostel realized it wouldn't be
possible to defeat us just with the hands of thugs," he said. "The small
alligators decided to get the help of a bigger alligator — Mr. Kasyanov.
They think that the big alligator can take away these buildings, so they
went to him for help. That's the scheme. That's how it worked These are the
same guys. They're just putting the money in their own pockets."

City officials reject such charges.

"This decision is taken at a very high level, and I think that everything
will be done in a proper and well-thought-through manner," Valery Nazarov,
chairman of St. Petersburg's committee for managing state property, told
Russia's TVS television.

Local and federal officials also argue the buildings deserve better care
than the current occupants have been able to provide.

But Dragavtsev, who admits that he could never have fought back this way in
Soviet times, isn't convinced.

His appeal is now at Russia's Higher Court of Arbitration in Moscow, which
is expected to rule on it soon.


The Yomiuri Shimbun 
April 27, 2003
Russia stumbles to regain prestige 
By Hiroyuki Fuse 
Fuse is a senior editor of The Yomiuri Shimbun. 

Observing the machinations of European countries over the Iraq war, I was
reminded of the Tripartite Intervention with Japan over a century ago. 

Germany, France and Russia, who opposed the U.S.-led attack on Iraq, happen
to be the very same three European powers that demanded in 1895 that Japan
give up the Liaodong Peninsula, acquired by Tokyo in winning the
Japanese-Sino War. 

In the Tripartite Intervention, the three countries advocated "independence
for Korea and peace in the Far East." 

Similarly, Germany, France and Russia opposed the Iraq war, justifying
their stance on the basis of the need for a U.N.-led solution. 

However, their true aim seems to have been to secure their interests in and
influence over Iraq, just as they did at the end of the 19th century. In
fact, the oil interests France and Russia possessed in Iraq under the
regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein are one of the major issues
facing postwar Iraq. 

U.S. and British news media have ridiculed the three countries, calling
them the "axis of weasels" with wry humor, claiming they not only utilized
public antiwar sentiment to resist an early launching of the Iraq war, but
that they also tried to steal the fruits of victory in Iraq once the war
ended. Weasels are cunning fellows. 

Of course, there is a definite difference between the Tripartite
Intervention and the "axis of weasels." 

While the demand by the three European powers 100 years ago was a matter of
life or death for Japan, then a fragile developing country, threats from
any country today seem little more than a battle waged by Don Quixote
against the windmill that is the United States, the superpower that
controls the world in the post-Cold War era. 

It is hard to understand why Germany, France and Russia resorted to such a
reckless and hopeless challenge. 

Of course, one aim was securing their interests in Iraq. Another reason
could be that their frustration and jealousy of U.S. unilateralism and
hegemony had accumulated for years and finally exploded with the
development of the Iraq problem. 

However, if you study closely the diplomatic moves made by Moscow as it
tried to follow the path set by Germany and France, even sacrificing
amicable relations with Washington, the possibility appears that Russia
might have just miscalculated. 

The first idea supporting this hypothesis is that Russia may have thought a
sudden rift between the United States and Europe would be a golden
opportunity for it to enlarge its international influence after having been
burned badly by such developments as the expansion of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization. 

Second, the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin half
believed the United States and Britain would be bogged down in the Iraq
war. It tried to regain its position as a "major power" by making itself
available as a mediator if the United States and Britain ran into an impasse. 

According to news reports in Russia, the Russian military took pains to
order its Black Sea Fleet not to speed up its scheduled departure for the
Arabian Sea in early April, when Iraq was temporarily putting up strong
resistance to U.S.-led forces. 

"Speculation by the staff office that the Iraq war will be prolonged is
being proved correct," the local reports quoted the military as saying. 

Also at about the same time, the influential Independent Newspaper
commented that whether Europe could profit from the war depended on how
strong Iraqi resistance was. It sounded as if the newspaper hoped the war
would be prolonged. 

Immediately after the start of the war, when European antiwar public
opinion was at its height, Putin openly criticized the decision made by the
administration of U.S. President George W. Bush and called it "politically

Putin is a former member of the KGB, an intelligence organization of the
former Soviet Union that took pride in having an extensive network of
information, and a self-proclaimed realist. 

However, he appeared to have made a critical mistake in analyzing the
European situation, the complexion of the Iraq war and the military power
of the United States and Britain. 

If that is indeed the case, it is understandable that Russia, which was
more shocked than Germany and France by the blitz-like victory of U.S. and
British forces, tried to lead Germany and France in a new Tripartite
Intervention in Iraq by hosting a summit conference of the three countries
in St. Petersburg. 

Therefore, it is easy to predict that, at least until it recovers from the
shock, Russia will continue playing to the gallery on international issues
like North Korea's nuclear development in an effort to recover its sphere
of influence and rein in the power of the United States. 


April 26, 2003
Russians Overwhelmingly Support Government Position on Iraq War

MOSCOW, April 26. 74% of Russians think that the Russian government was
correct in taking a position against war in Iraq, according to a recent
survey by the Public Opinion fund. Only 11% think that the government took
the wrong position.

The supporters of communist Gennady Zyuganov (20%) more often than the
supporters of other Russian politicians thought the Russian position in
relation to the war was incorrect. Moreover, the survey showed that 10% of
Russians think that the U.S. army liberated the Iraqi people, while 70%
thought they were conquerors. According to 54% of respondents the Iraqi
army did not show stubborn opposition to the U.S. soldiers and their
allies. In addition, 28% of those questioned are convinced that the
opposition was stubborn, and that opinion is especially popular among
respondents age 35 and younger - 33%. Moreover, 54% of Russians thought
that the Iraqi army would show stubborn resistance. 59% of questioned men
and 60% of respondents with higher educations thought the Iraqi army would
show stubborn resistance.

41% of Russians think that despite the route of the Iraqi army and the
defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime the U.S. and its allies will experience
armed uprisings in Iraq. 31% do not expect uprisings. 1,500 respondents
took part in the survey held across Russia on April 19. 


Financial Times (UK)
April 26, 2003
Speaking Volumes 
By Arkady Ostrovsky
Boris Berezovsky has plenty of time for reading these days. In March,
Berezovsky was arrested and released on bail in London after Russian
authorities issued an extradition warrant charging him with fraud. The once
powerful oligarch who expertly navigated the corridors of Boris Yeltsin's
Kremlin, and helped advance Vladimir Putin's career before falling out with
him, is thus restricted to the UK. He can thus only watch as the oil
company he helped create - Sibneft - merges with Yukos to create a world
oil giant.

He has lived in the genteel ambience of Wentworth Park, a 240-acre estate
in the heart of Surrey, for 18 months, yet most of the objects in the
house, including many of the leather-bound books in the wood-panelled
library, are relics of its previous owners. Berezovsky may own the house,
but he does not seem to belong in it.

His favourite book is Other Shores, the memoirs of Russia's greatest
literary nomad, Vladimir Nabokov. "It resonates with my own life," he says.
"I first read it when I was 21 but now, unable to return to Russia,

I feel this book particularly acutely." Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag
Archipelago on the other hand, which defined an entire generation of
samizdat-reading Russian intelligentsia, did not have much of an impact. "I
was always more interested in the form and the language than in the content."

By his own admission, Berezovsky never belonged to the circle of Soviet
dissidents. Under communism, he was a mathematician, specialising in
optimisation theory. When communism ended, he turned his tirelessly
analytical mind to business, "optimising" his political contacts to gain
control of old state enterprises and create a mammoth empire spanning
media, oil and car-making. He then moved into politics, becoming, in the
mid-1990s, the most powerful of Yeltsin's circle of plutocrat counsellors.

It was during this period that he turned to Dostoevsky. "Nobody understood
the phenomenon of freedom in Russia better," he says. When Berezovsky talks
about The Brothers Karamazov and, more specifically, about Ivan Karamazov's
poem about the Grand Inquisitor, he speaks faster and his eyes light up.
"When I read it the first time, I was convinced that it was a dialogue
between Jesus and the Inquisitor. The second time, I realised Jesus does
not say a word. It is really a dialogue between the reader and the
Inquisitor. Everyone has his own God and his own replies, but the Devil is
the same for everyone." Berezovsky used a line from Ivan Karamazov's story
as an epigraph for his recent pamphlet, "The Manifesto of Russian
Liberalism". "There is nothing, and there never has been anything, more
unbearable for a human being and for humanity than freedom!"

During the mid-1990s, in the bloodbath of Russian politics, one other
writer influenced Berezovsky. "Vladimir Lenin. Not as an ideologist, but as
a tactician in political struggle. Nobody had a better perception of what
was possible. He had a unique sense of moment and events. Lenin understood
the psychology of a society." As for the other political writer most
readily associated with Berezovsky, Niccolo Machiavelli, he is dismissive.
Looking straight into my eye, he says firmly: "I have read Machiavelli. But
I have not discovered anything new for myself."

These days, Berezovsky is engrossed in Milan Kundera's The Unbearable
Lightness of Being. "Kundera has a great understanding of the relationship
between a man and a woman: something I have never been good at. I
understand people's intellectual qualities, but I am a poor judge of
personal character." On this, perhaps, Berezovsky and Putin would agree.

What's on the shelf

1. The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia by David Hoffman
"David was a bureau-chief for The Washington Post in the late 90s and this
is one of the best books in the west about that period. He understood the
historic process. The oligarchs were only riding the wave of that process.
He signed this book for me: 'To Boris Abramovich. This is your history and
I am grateful for your help in telling the story.'"

2. Tragedies and Letters to Lucilius by Seneca
"Seneca has been my desk companion since I was 16. I particularly like his
letters to Lucilius. Each sentence contained a complete idea. I remember in
one of the letters Seneca advised Lucilius: 'Don't waste your time reading
everything that has been written.' And this was 2,000 years ago."

3. Marathon by Boris Yeltsin
"This book was written by Yelstin's ghost writer. There is no Yeltsin in
this book. Boris Nikolaevich was a figure of historic scale, whereas this
book is written by someone who is only interested in Kremlin intrigue."

4. Plays by William Shakespeare
"My dream of England has largely been formed by reading Shakespeare. I have
always admired the independence of spirit in the English people, and
Shakespeare showed this better than anyone else. My favourite play is Hamlet."

5. A Child's History of England by Charles Dickens
"Dickens dedicated this book to his children. And since my children go to
school in this country, it is also important for me from that point of view."

The author joins the FT's Moscow bureau next month

The Observer (UK)
April 27, 2003
Moscow's most wanted man 
Billionaire Boris Berezovsky remains defiant about efforts by his native
Russia to extradite him on fraud charges. But he still fears the assassin's
bullet, reports Nick Kochan 

To describe this office as the Gulag of Mayfair is no exaggeration. The
first ring of guards are planted in the middle of the pavement of a Mayfair
street. The second ring appear out of the shadows when you approach the
plain-speaking English porter. 

One guard, with a thick Russian accent, slips discreetly into the lift. Yet
more guards, wired for sound, cluster around the office. The staff planted
in the reception area speaking Russian glance up nervously at the visitor.
A burly man called Vladimir, who hails from Moscow, steers you to one of
many locked doors and departs. 

Inside a large but spartan office is Boris Berezovsky, sitting alone, shirt
open, expectant. Could this low-key man be Russia's wealthiest individual,
the once-powerful oligarch and financier of opposition to President
Vladimir Putin, and the country's most wanted man? 

He speaks English fluently, but with a heavy Russian accent. 'I am trying
to improve my English. I have been learning English almost all my life but
never had so long to practise it.' 

He tells a scatological joke in perfect English, which he insists should
not be repeated in print. In the meantime, he asks visitors to spell out
difficult words which he jots down on a notepad. It remains to be seen how
much time Berezovsky will have to perfect his language; the Russian
authorities are seeking his extradition for a $13 million (£8m) fraud. His
next hearing is on 13 May. 

Berezovsky's campaign to resist extradition and win political asylum is
being masterminded by Conservative politicians and, in particular, the
communications guru Lord Tim Bell. Berezovsky says: 'I have a lot of
connections here, not so much with New Labour but with the Conservatives.
Lord Bell for example.' 

Berezovsky says he has $1.5 billion invested outside Russia, and a similar
amount invested in Russian business but he will not discuss his business

The reclusive and reticent émigré is a very different Berezovsky from the
one who 10 years earlier proudly stalked the corridors of the Kremlin.
Following a successful academic career as a mathematician, he showed great
financial skills as well as the ability to charm and manipulate
politicians. In due course, he was acknowledged as a power broker without
equal, who used his television station to ensure the election of President
Boris Yeltsin. 

He shared power with a group of other businessmen and, for a period,
influenced the break-up of Russia's state sector. Berezovsky's particular
prizes were the airline Aeroflot and the television station ORT. Between
them, this group of businessmen owned well over half of Russia's entire GDP. 

But the arrogance implicit in the oligarchy has come back to haunt him. In
response to widespread anger throughout Russia that seven 'oligarchs'
contributed to the country's parlous economic condition, Putin is hunting
down oligarchs and seizing their wealth. 

Businessmen who grasped the opportunities of a country experiencing
lawlessness and political breakdown are now greeted with reactions from
ridicule to bitter hatred. Does Berezovsky care? 'I don't care what people
think about me. I just care what I think about myself.' 

He alone of this band of barons has put his head above the parapet. He is
determined to go head to head with Putin, a politician whose presidential
campaign ironically he supported both financially and in the media, and
makes some damaging allegations. 'Putin tried to destroy all my business in
Russia.' The way Berezovsky lost his 49 per cent stake in his television
channel (51 per cent had remained in state ownership) particularly hurts
him. When he refused to hand over the shares, Putin had his business
partner Nikolai Glushkov arrested, Berezovsky alleges. 

Putin's head of administration summoned him to the Kremlin and offered him
a deal: return the shares and Glushkov would be released. Berezovsky agreed
on the condition that the government repaid some of the $380m he had
invested in the TV company. The government repaid $170m and Berezovsky
handed back the shares. Glushkov remains inside, a fellow defendant with
Berezovsky, accused at that time of milking the national airline, Aeroflot. 

Berezovsky now questions who owns the television station shares that were
transferred to the government. He says: 'I know that there are companies
which I don't own any more because other people took them.' 

He argues that a similarly murky fate has befallen MostTV, the television
company formerly owned by another oligarch, Vladimir Gusinsky. 

While Berezovsky throws mud at Putin, the president has plenty of dirt to
sling back. The principal target is his role in the management of Aeroflot
which Berezovsky bought from the government for a knock-down price. It
looked to many like a sweetheart deal between Yeltsin and his favourite

The Russian prosecutor has targeted $600m of foreign exchange revenues put
into a consolidated Swiss account, called Andava and held at Union Bank of
Switzerland in Lausanne where it is managed by a discreet Swiss trading
house, Andre et Cie. The prosecutor's investigation into the relationship
between Andava and Aeroflot resulted in criminal charges in Russia. 

But Berezovsky says KGB resentment, not any judicial motive, is driving the
case as the security agency used the foreign exchange prior to his
takeover, to pay their international operatives. 

The security service is similarly fired up by his handling of foreign
exchange earned by his car company Avtovaz. Swiss authorities have frozen
an account called Forus, which contains $50m of Avtovaz money deposited in
Switzerland, and are investigating the case. 

With these financial investigations hanging over him, it is little wonder
that Berezovsky sought safety abroad. It is also not surprising that he
takes up political cudgels against Putin. 

Berezovsky says he is considering standing for the duma (the Russian
parliament) at the next election. In 2001 he founded his own party, Liberal
Russia, to oppose Putin, and promote free-market policies. Berezovsky says
he has spent $10m on funding opposition to Putin to date, and says he may
spend up to $100m on further political funding. He also funds the Russian
Green Party. 

However, the leaders of Liberal Russia are dwindling in desperate
circumstances as one by one they fall victim to the assassin's bullet. Most
recently, one of the party's founders, Sergei Yushenkov was murdered a
fortnight ago in front of his home in Moscow. 

Berezovsky says: 'The shooting is a message to society, and to me
personally. It is not the first time I have been threatened. I am worried,
but I am not changing my mind.' Nine years ago, Berezovsky's chauffeur had
his head blown off by a bomb intended for his employer who walked away
unscathed. The cool was typical of the man. 

Berezovsky is arguing in his case against extradition that his life would
be threatened if he were forced to return to Russia to face charges. In the
light of the most recent murder, this argument gains weight. Who can deny
that the security guards at that Mayfair office look like a sensible


Born Moscow 1946, father an engineer, mother a nurse 

Career 1963-1989, student and then professor at Moscow University;
1989-1995, established and ran one of Russia's largest car dealers,
Logovaz; 1993, met Boris Yeltsin, subsidised publication of his biography;
1993-1996, acquired then relinquished Israeli citizenship; 1994, car bomb
killed driver; 1995, acquired stakes in ORT TV and Sibneft oil company;
1997, acquired Aeroflot; 1999, arrest warrant issued in Aeroflot case, then
withdrawn; 2000, leaves for France; 2001, arrives in UK; 2002 Moscow issues
arrest warrant for alleged £8m fraud; 2003 arrested in London 


Feature: Chernobyl legacy lingers 
By Elizabeth Manning
UPI Deputy International Editor
April 26, 2003

It was only a test during routine maintenance, in fact a test of an
emergency back-up system, that snowballed into what became the world's
largest nuclear accident in the early hours of April 26, 1986. Seventeen
years later, the survivors of the Chernobyl reactor explosion marked the
day Saturday with wreaths and scattered protests that their governments
have forgotten them.

In Ukraine, President Leonid Kuchma laid flowers on the country's memorial
gravesite in Kiev, the capital, and residents lit candles during a requiem
service. Some 140 kilometers (90 miles) to the north, in the town built
near the now-shuttered plant to house its workers, hundreds gathered in
Slavutych's main church shortly after 1 a.m. to commemorate the exact hour
the 2,000-ton lid of Chernobyl Reactor No. 4 was hurtled into the air.

On Friday several dozen of the surviving "liquidators" -- the dark term for
those who took on dangerous clean-up work in the weeks and months after the
accident -- paraded outside Ukraine's government center. Inflation has
reduced their health pensions to sums from about 150 hryvynas (about $30)
down to as little as 5 or 6 hryvnyas per month.

Only about half of the 700-strong 731st Battalion of Chernobyl liquidators
are still alive, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported their former
commander as saying.

In a Saturday service, one of the original firefighters spoke to mourners
at the Kiev monument.

"We did not think about the consequences when we were in Chernobyl
fulfilling the tasks set to eliminate the aftermath of the accident," said
Serhiy Krasylnykov, head of a Chernobyl victims group. "We were not
striving for awards. We simply fulfilled our civic duty."

Many of the first wave of workers who rushed to contain the explosion died
within hours from the radiation pouring from the shattered reactor. To date
epidemiologists place the total deaths somewhere between 15,000 and 30,000,
many of which critics say could have been avoided by early safety measures. 

Moscow, then the capital of the Soviet Union, did not admit the accident
for hours even among local populations, nor the scope of the devastation
for several days. Meanwhile, people in nearby communities sunbathed and
picnicked in the unusually warm spring weather around the May Day holiday,
exposing themselves to the flow of radioactive particles ultimately carried
by winds for hundreds of miles from the site. Iodine pills to protect from
thyroid cancer were not distributed for days and in some cases weeks, when
the therapeutic window was largely past.

According to a study published in a July 1999 issue of the journal Cancer,
the rate of thyroid cancer among Ukrainians age 15 and younger increased
10-fold in the years following the accident. The rate of 4-6 cases per
billion in the five years before Chernobyl ballooned to 45 per billion from
1986 to 1997.

All told, about 50,000 square kilometers (20,000 square miles) were
contaminated by radiation in Russia and almost 100,000 square kilometers in
Ukraine and Belarus, according to Tass figures.

After years of debate, the final reactor of Chernobyl was shut down in
December 2000. These days, the plant is quiet. It is not at rest, however.
The structure built to contain the still-smoldering and deadly wreckage is
in danger of collapsing. Called the sarcophagus, it stands as the world's
greatest challenge in civil engineering and was constructed with
determination and human as well as financial cost. But the crushing loads
and high radiation have taken their toll.

Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev warned Saturday that "nobody
has inspected these walls in detail. We do not know what reactions are
taking place under the shield," originally built to last five years, he
said. A new structure will likely cost $150 million or more, funds that
Ukrainians and even the Russians say they simply do not have.

A collapse would not revisit the cataclysm of Chernobyl but would more
likely spread a cloud of radioactive dust and panic throughout the region.

"Doctors proved that fear and 'radio-phobia' cause more harm than actual
radioactive contamination," said Rumyantsev, according to an Interfax

Russian KGB Documents declassified earlier this month suggested a record of
problems at Chernobyl's four reactors, ranging from inconsistent
performance to equipment failures. 


Russian army puts up stiff resistance to end of draft 

MOSCOW, April 25 (AFP) - "There has been, is, and always will be a draft in
Russia," a top army general boomed Friday as the country faced a June 1
deadline set by President Vladimir Putin to reform a military built on
Soviet-era equipment and bogged down in Chechnya.
Reforms were first launched by former president Boris Yeltsin in 1996 at
the bloody end of the first Chechnya war and have since been reintroduced
and abandoned on several occasions.

It hinges on a Russian admission that it can no longer afford to support a
1.1-million-strong military while also developing and building weapons to
replace the outdated Soviet ones.

The latest plan pits a military brass bent on keeping the draft because it
fears few would want to serve in Russia's dilapidated army by choice
against liberals lobbying for a small professional army and a quick end to

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov stepped into the debate Thursday by saying
he preferred to cut back conscripted army service from two years to one.

But Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov responded that the idea might work --
but no sooner than in four years.

Ivanov is Russia's first civilian defense minister and a close Putin ally
charged with overseeing army reforms.

But analysts agree that he has run into stiff resistance from hawkish army
generals taught in the Soviet era and keen to preserve the military at its
current size. Many seem convinced that ending the draft would spell the
army's ruin.

Smirnov, the top Russian general in charge of the call-up and staffing,
said Russia's main goal was to have 176,500 professional soldiers and
colonels permanently stationed in hotspots like Chechnya by the end of 2007.

"The first ones to be switched to contract service will be troops
permanently stationed in Chechnya and surrounding regions," said the general.

He added the military wanted to make sure that untested young conscripts --
many of whom never properly learned how to fire a gun -- are not sent into
Chechnya or other war zones.

"Twenty percent of the army never graduated from grammar school and we have
people who cannot read," conceded Smirnov.

The general staff in part admits to accusations from liberals like deputy
Boris Nemtsov that the military is largely staffed by "unemployed thugs and
former prison inmates."

Smirnov released a report showing that 39.5 percent of soldiers and
recruits who joined the armed forces last year had no employment or
secondary education.

That figure compared to just 3.6 percent in 1988.

And Smirnov appeared to concede that the finances of the latest stab at
army reform do not yet add up.

Russia must find the cash not only to pay for professional soldiers but
also research and development as well as housing and retraining of reduced

The general staff is requesting 138 billion rubles (4.4 billion dollars,
4.0 billion euros) over the next four years to implement its plan.

The plan would see professional troops paid up to 8,000 rubles (about 260
dollars) a month compared to the current 2,800 rubles.

He said Nemtsov's idea of quickly switching all soldiers to professional
service and paying them about 3,500 rubes is "impossible" because nobody
would fight in the army for such pay.

But reports said that Kasyanov appeared to favor the Nemtsov plan because
it seemed cheaper and more effective.

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reported the finance ministry Thursday
volunteered to allocate only a third of the sum requested by the defense

No formal decision is expected before June 1 but Nezavisimaya said that
Kasyanov has "refused to approve the army reform plan offered by the
defense ministry."


From: "Fred Harrison" 
Subject: SARS
Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2003 

David - I know there are some Russia-interested public health and
medical professionals who read JRL. Given that places as remote from
China as Ireland, Switzerland, Romania, Brazil and South Africa have
reported cases of SARS, is it at all likely that China's big nieghbor
Russia would have absolutely none? I note that Isvestia is quoting a
health ministry official as stating, "Our fellow countrymen have
absolutely no fear of coming down with atypical pneumonia." Should we
take heart from this bravado or are next week's headlines going to be
about another Russian coverup?

Fred Harrison
Ansdell Associates
45 Russell Square, London WC1B 4JP
Office: +44(0)20 7431 7517  Fax: +44(0)20 7681 1229 


Chechnya's rebuilding ineffective - chief Russian auditor

MOSCOW. April 26 (Interfax) - Chechnya's rehabilitation has been
"extremely" ineffective, just "a few buildings" have been restored in the
entire region, and a lot of money has been lost via mistakes, stolen,
misused or used ineffectively, Russia's chief auditor said in a Saturday
television program. 
   "The programs that are planned for the restoration of Chechnya are being
implemented extremely ineffectively. 
   "Ninety-five percent of the money that has been allocated has been put
to use. This is a fairly high proportion, but in real terms only 30% of
facilities have been restored: funds have been smeared around a tremendous
number of facilities, not a single industrial enterprise is being restored. 
   "There's no real restoration, a few buildings [have been restored], and
mainly it's Stalingrad ruins, a depressing picture," Sergei Stepashin, head
of the Russian Audit Chamber, told Russia's Rossiya television. 
   Stalingrad, today called Volgograd, is a Russian city devastated by the
Germans during World War II. 
   He said the Chamber had found out that more than 20 million rubles had
been lost via mistakes by accountants or finance officials, misused, or
spent ineffectively. 
   He suggested that a clear investment program be devised for Chechnya to
eliminate "the factor of social tension and instability." 
   There are about 400,000 unemployed in Chechnya, according to Stepashin.
"And then we ask why people go to the mountains, and why we can't take
Maskhadov or Basayev," he said. Aslan Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev are
separatist leaders. 


The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
April 27, 2003
Russia strips 'untouchable' drivers of their sirens
By Tom Parfitt in Moscow

Russia's top executives and mafia bosses face a clampdown on some of their
most cherished perks: the sirens, flashing blue lights and government
licence plates which make their cars "untouchable" by traffic police.

Lawmakers in the Duma have approved a bill restricting use of "special
signals" to emergency vehicles and a handful of ministerial cars, in an
effort to end a black-market abuse that enables almost 4,000 private cars
to flout the rules of the road.

Although the perk is officially granted only to high-ranking state
functionaries, tycoons and criminals acquire the necessary permits and
equipment from corrupt bureaucrats for the equivalent of £1,300. 

Lights and sirens on blacked-out saloons can scatter traffic on Moscow's
clogged boulevards in seconds. Cars with government markings speed through
red lights with impunity.

Viktor Pokhmelkin, a state Duma deputy who proposed the legislation, said
that the misuse of the privileges had to be stamped out.

Flashing lights or migalki became indispensable for Russia's elite in the
1990s. Sergei Kiriyenko, who became prime minister in 1998, reportedly used
them on his saloon to avoid being late for Western movies showing at the
capital's Radisson Slavyanskaya hotel.

Russia's notorious traffic police, the GAI, instinctively step aside at the
first sign of a flashing blue light or the wail of a siren. Newspapers can
often predict the downfall of a politician by the removal of his migalki.
The mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, recently lost his after a bitter dispute
with the Kremlin over new appointments to the city administration.

Mafia gangs rely on migalki and counterfeit or stolen government licence
plates to avoid being stopped or searched. Roof-top lights can be bought
for as little as 300 roubles (£6) in outdoor markets, and the money for a
permit to use them is paid to corrupt bureaucrats who register the vehicle
with a state agency.

"It's easy," one government official said. Despite his low rank, he
acquired migalki to use when he is late for work. "All that's needed is
money and connections," he said. "You hand over the cash and then you're
untouchable on the street."

Mr Pokhmelkin vowed to wipe out the corruption after estimating that there
were 3,884 cars in Russia with "special signals", compared with just 124 in
the Soviet era. About one third are in the Moscow area.

"Nowhere else in the world is there such a quantity of migalki," he added.
"In many countries, not even the highest state officials have them. The
President of the USA doesn't and neither does the Queen of England."

Financial Times (UK)
April 26, 2003
BOOK REVIEWS: Shelf Life - OGI, Moscow 
Andrew Jack
A short walk from the bolshoi in central Moscow, a studenty corner cafe is
capitalising on the city trendsetters' growing taste for coffee and
contemporary literature.

With bright orange chairs, chrome walls, exposed concrete beams and soft
Arabic music penetrating the smoke-laden atmosphere, OGI looks like
something out of underground Manhattan in the 1980s. This being Russia,
there is a well-stocked bar too. Customers nibble at OGI's hallmark cheap
Russian pies at tables scattered with newspapers, while behind them some
4,000 books - as well as an assortment of magazines, videos and CDs - are
on sale around the clock.

"Books have become trendy," says Vladimir Soldatov, a recently graduated
physicist turned bookshop manager. "A lot of our clients are from the
Moscow Architectural Institute, and design academies. There are also
computer chat groups that meet here." There's no shortage of such Russian
greats as Dostoevsky on sale, mostly bought by foreigners visiting or
living in Moscow. Locals often buy foreign classics - from Hemingway to
Aleister Crowley.

Many of his customers, he says, are inspired by the recommendations of
Afisha, a weekly listings magazine. Translations of modern foreign writers
- Frederic Beigbeder, Michel Houellebecq, Douglas Copeland - are popular.
Russians such as Viktor Pelevin, Vladimir Sorokin and the pseudonymous
Boris Akunin have become modern classics. For those in search of
contemporary fiction, he advises Fox Mulder Looks Like a Pig, by Andrei
Gelasimov and Last Petal by Sergei Kuznetsov. Andrew Jack, OGI, 12 Bolshaya
Dmitrovka, 007 095 229 3453

The Guardian (UK)
April 26, 2003
Travel: Russia: Storming the Winter Palace: Next month, St Petersburg
celebrates its 300th anniversary. Security affairs editor Richard
Norton-Taylor spends an exhausting but exhilarating weekend tracking down
its tsarist and revolutionary past 
The most striking features of St Petersburg are the stunning vistas. Turn a
corner and you see a cathedral, its towers and gilded domes shining in the
bright light. Turn another and you catch the tall steeple of the Admiralty.
Turn again and your eyes capture the gentle colours of a bridge across a
canal lined by rows of pastel-coloured buildings. And then there is the
Winter Palace.

Take a brief rest. Your senses will need it after almost a surfeit of
paintings in the Hermitage museum, of which the Winter Palace forms one
part. Look out of the window and you are greeted with the sight of the
river Neva. Twice the width of the Thames in central London, it flows
gently in summer, and in winter is covered with thick snow.

When we were there in January, with the temperature at -25C, groups of
young people were walking across the Neva as the sun, even in winter,
caught the tops of the church towers and the dark facade of Peter and Paul
Fortress, a former prison and garrison whose cathedral is the burial place
of the Romanovs. A little to the east, the cruiser Aurora is anchored. From
here, at 9.45pm on October 25 1917, sailors fired the cannon to signal to
the Bolsheviks to storm the Winter Palace.

But back to the Hermitage. You need two visits at least to take in Leonardo
da Vinci's Madonnas, a gallery of Rembrandts - including the Return Of The
Prodigal Son and Portrait Of An Old Man In Red - and works by Van Dyck,
Rubens, Titian, El Greco, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Cezanne, Picasso, Renoir,
Monet, Matisse, Sisley, together with a room of Gauguins and much more.

Don't take a guided tour; you need to take your own time. In winter at
least, and if you are early enough, maybe in summer, too, you have the
rooms almost to yourself. When we were there, during the school holidays,
groups of Russian children and students - for whom admission is free - were
packing the entrance. But they had come to see, or were shown, only the
rooms and relics of their country's past tsarist splendour, not west
European paintings.

You can rest with lunch or supper at the Literaturnoe at 18 Nevsky
Prospekt. This establishment, damned, wrongly in my view, in the 2001
edition of the Rough Guide, like many in St Petersburg, is difficult to
spot, with a small entrance leading to the cellar of nondescript buildings.
I started with warm baked crab, a wonderful appetiser for the fish and meat
dishes washed down by strong but refreshing Georgian wine. In a discreet
corner, a trio played classical music.

After a brief kip in the hotel, we returned to the Hermitage, this time to
the theatre built for Catherine the Great, to see Swan Lake and an
astonishing performance by Alexandra Iosifidi. Russian prima ballerinas
seem so much more expressive, tactile even, than their British counterparts.

In 1991, a hotly disputed referendum registered a 51% vote in favour of
changing back the city's name from Leningrad to St Petersburg. The
remarkably close result echoes the turbulent history of Russia's former
capital, which prides itself on both its tsarist and revolutionary past.
Statues of Lenin abound along with those of monarchs.

On May 27, St Petersburg celebrates its tercentenary. The squares, statues
and buildings are being spruced up for the event. "It will be full of heads
of state, with no ordinary tourists," said our guide. The end of May is the
start of the season, midsummer, of the "White Nights". If in winter the
snow gives the city an almost fairytale appearance, the summer brings its
own attractions. It was difficult when we were there to get to Tsarskoe
Selo, Rastrelli's magnificent palace 16 miles south of the city, built by
Peter the Great for his wife, Catherine. Even more difficult in winter,
when the gulf is iced over, is a trip to Kronstadt, Peter the Great's sea
fortress, which also played a significant role in Russia's revolutionary past.

However, it is easy, whatever the weather, to walk around the centre. We
stayed opposite St Isaac's cathedral, a 19th-century monstrosity built
after Russia's defeat of Napoleon. Russian guides, like those everywhere,
rattle off statistics - the cupola is exactly 101.5 metres high, we are told.

You can stimulate your imagination as you walk down the nearby Malaya
Morskaya. It is an unimpressive street now, but No 10 was the residence of
Princess Golitsyna, believed to be the subject of Pushkin's short story,
The Queen Of Spades. On the other side, at No 13, Tchaikovsky died in
October 1893. Nikolai Gogol lived in No 17 between 1833 and 1838, when he
wrote, among other works, The Government Inspector and Diary Of A Madman.

Not to be missed is The Church of the Spilled Blood, also called the Church
of the Resurrection of Christ. Outside and inside alike, it is lavishly
decorated. It was built over 24 years on the spot where the reformist tsar,
Alexander II, was assassinated in March 1881. Between 1930 and 1970, the
church was used as a storehouse.

Just across the road, there are lines of small wooden stalls with
souvenirs, including political variations of the traditional wooden
interlocking matryoshka dolls. For a wide range of more expensive
souvenirs, including glassware, make your way back to the Nevsky Prospekt.
Across the road is the Strogonoff Yard, where there is also a lively cafe.

Further east, a cab drive away, is the Smolny complex, including a superb
baroque, light blue and gold convent building designed by Rastrelli. Next
door, the Smolny Institute was a school for young ladies-in-waiting for the
tsarinas before it became the headquarters of the Bolshevik central committee.

We took a metro ride to Dostoyevskaya station to visit the Dostoyevsky
museum, once the great writer's house. A right turn out of the station,
towards the museum, is a thriving market with stalls piled high with cream,
vegetables and fruit from all over Russia. Just to the left of the station,
in a little square, stands the writer's statue. His museum is well kept and
wonderfully informative. The study is as it was when he collapsed after
stretching for an ink bottle which had fallen on the floor, his lungs weak
due to heavy smoking.

On the bottom of a tobacco box there is a note written by his daughter,
Liubov, on the day of her father's death. "January 28 1881," it says. "Papa
died at a quarter to nine."

A good way to celebrate the writer is at the Idiot cafe, south of St
Isaac's at No 82 Naberezhnaya (nab) reki Moyki. A bell tinkles as you open
the small door on to a friendly greeting by staff and a free glass of
vodka. It is frequented by students (including foreign ones) who come here
to fill up on a range of dishes. I would recommend the borscht or pancakes.

St Petersburg already has the inevitable McDonald's, and western and
Russian entrepreneurs are bringing with them flashy neon lights and
characterless shops. Also, it is advisable to check before you rely on your
guidebook for restaurants - one billed as an old Russian family-run
establishment turned out to be a modern Japanese eaterie. It was open but

BBC Monitoring
Russia returns to the top of the world after lengthy absence - TV report
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1000 gmt 26 Apr 03

Presenter: Following a long break, Russian polar explorers are resuming
large-scale development of the Arctic. Twelve participants from a
high-latitude expedition have rehoisted the state flag at Russia's first
drifting polar station, North Pole-32 Russian: Severnyy Polyus-32 - SP-32 .

The station stands on an ice floe 150 m. from the North Pole, the point at
which all of the earth's meridians meet. Over the course of the next six
months, the scientists will be studying the Arctic Ocean and its
atmosphere. The resumption of permanent monitoring in the Arctic Ocean is
extremely important for mainland weather services, guaranteeing navigation
through the Northern Sea Route and assessing mineral reserves on the Arctic

I remind you that our country started developing the Arctic basin in 1937,
when the first mobile expedition left for the drift of the Arctic Ocean,
and the world's first polar research station, North Pole-1 Russian:
Severnyy Polyus-1 - SP-1 , was opened.

Artur Chilingarov, captioned as president of the Russian association of
polar explorers, head of the North Pole-32 drifting expedition, also deputy
speaker of the State Duma: This is our Arctic, this is the Russian Arctic,
and the Russian flag should be here. And so we hoisted the Russian flag
here today. And we're not going anywhere.

As I understand it, this is also politically important, and it's an
educational and patriotic objective. Let people dream not only of being
managers, let's have as many people as possible becoming polar explorers.

I think that, once you've been here, and you already are here, you'll also
want to fly here and tell of these lads' hard work.

Vladimir Koshelev, captioned as head of the North Pole-32 polar research
station: First of all, we've spent a long time getting to this point, but,
in general, it was a huge joy. You see, this is our work, and we know how
to do this, and we know how to do it pretty well. This is our life.
Russia's a northern country, so we felt a lot of enthusiasm.

In the same bulletin, Russia TV reported that President Vladimir Putin had
sent the explorers his congratulations on their return to the North Pole.
The channel quoted part of his message, which reads: "It is important that,
after a 12-year break, Russian scientists have returned to the North Pole,
continuing the traditions laid down by several generations of legendary
polar explorers."


FEATURE-Tsar's freakshow helps fight Russian alcoholism
By Jeremy Page

LYUBERTSY, Russia, April 27 (Reuters) - Peter the Great would have been proud.

The Russian schoolchildren huddled together in silence, eyes goggling at
the collection of deformed human foetuses started by the tsar almost 300
years ago.

"You see, kids," whispered Tatyana Borisova in the soft tones of a
children's storyteller as she pointed to the "Cyclops" -- a stillborn baby
with a single eye in the middle of its forehead.

"This is what can happen if you mess around with drugs and alcohol."

For one young girl, it was all too much. She asked for permission to leave
but passed out as she headed for the door.

The stomach-churning collection of preserved mutant babies and pickled body
parts is part of the Kunstkammer, Russia's first museum, which the tsar
founded in 1714 to combat superstition and promote scientific education.

Three centuries later, the "anatomical rarities" exhibition -- part freak
show, part medical study -- is being used in a "shock tactics" campaign to
combat drug and alcohol abuse.

Russians drink some 15 litres of pure alcohol per head each year, one of
the highest rates in the world, and by some estimates one in seven Russians
are alcoholics, experts say.

Male life expectancy has plunged to under 59 since the Soviet Union
collapsed in 1991. And a country where drug abuse was virtually unknown in
Soviet times now has three million drug users -- about two percent of the


Borisova, the administrator of the exhibition, says desperate times call
for desperate measures.

"Unfortunately, so many children are surrounded by drunks on the street or
even in their homes," she said. "We should show this to children and show
them what organs look like and what happens to our body if we use certain

The Kunstkammer is based in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in
St Petersburg -- the former Russian capital which celebrates its 300th
anniversary in May.

But 40 exhibits are touring Russian cities to promote health education,
much in the spirit of Peter the Great, Borisova says.

Captivated by all things European, the tsar started the collection after
visiting the museum of a brilliant Dutch anatomist, Frederik Ruysch, in
Amsterdam in 1697.

He bought Ruysch's entire collection of pickled body parts and encouraged
Russians to contribute human and animal abnormalities, determined to show
visitors such phenomena were not the work of the devil, but of nature.

The result is one of the most bizarre museums in the world -- its German
name reflecting the European influence on Peter.

As well as the Cyclops, it includes Siamese twins, a two-faced baby known
as a "Janus," a "mermaid" with a fleshy tail instead of legs, and a
double-headed calf.

Another highlight is the skeleton of a giant named Bourgeois, whom Peter
brought back to Russia from the French port of Calais.


This month, the exhibition was in Lyubertsy, a town of concrete high-rise
buildings and simple wooden houses just outside Moscow, with a poor record
of substance abuse.

The poster outside the Lyubertsy House of Culture has an unashamedly
"Roll-up! Roll-up!" ring.

"You will see the Siamese twins, the cyclops, the mermaid, the two-faced
baby and other anatomical rarities!" it proclaims.

But once inside, the 300 schoolchildren and dozens of curious adults who
visit every day listen to Borisova patiently preaching the virtues of

"You should talk with them not to scare them, but to let them draw their
own conclusions," she said. "You should tell them about our ecology and
about unhealthy lifestyles."

Judging by their reactions, her unorthodox approach --  P.T. Barnum meets
Betty Ford -- is getting the message through.

"Well, this shows me that you should never smoke, use drugs or drink if you
want to have a normal child or a normal career," said Natasha, a
third-grade student.

Even a couple of swaggering teenage boys said they would think twice before
lighting up a cigarette or cracking open a beer after seeing the
disintegrated lungs of a smoker and the bloated liver of an alcoholic
floating in formaldehyde.

"We already smoke and drink," said 14-year-old Yevgeny Ganin. "It's normal
for kids our age. But I think vodka can be dangerous and I stay away from

Police in Lyubertsy say most addicts are aged between 16 and 30, and 80
percent of cases involve heroin.

President Vladimir Putin last year called drug addiction in post-Soviet
Russia a social disaster and launched a national agency to lead a crackdown
on drug trafficking.


But tackling alcoholism is more problematic given the enduring popularity
of vodka, the national drink.

Alcohol is sold 24 hours a day from kiosks around Lyubertsy -- as in most
of Russia -- and a litre costs just over $1. Beer is regarded by many as a
soft drink.

Moscow's city government is considering ending round-the-clock alcohol
sales because boozing is draining the economy and driving away tourists, a
Moscow newspaper said this month.

But such moves are fraught with political risk in Russia -- especially with
a presidential election set for early 2004.

In the 1980s, attempts by then president Mikhail Gorbachev to curb
alcoholism by slashing vodka output and destroying vineyards only caused
widespread derision and a surge in production of moonshine.

Shocking as the Kunstkammer exhibition may be, pessimists argue that
drinking has always been part of Russian culture and always will be. After
all, legend has it that when Peter the Great opened the museum, he had to
entice visitors by offering them a free shot of vodka.

The Economist (UK)
April 26, 2003 
A good man murdered

POLITICAL killings in Russia are rarely political. Ten members of the Duma,
the lower house of parliament, have been murdered in the past ten years,
plus a host of sundry other officials. Though the cases are rarely solved,
most carry a strong whiff of corruption or business disputes. But Sergei
Yushenkov, a Duma member shot dead on April 17th outside his home, was--so
everyone says--clean.

Compare his murder with that of another Duma member, Vladimir Golovlyov,
co-chairman with him of the small Liberal Russia party. Colleagues at first
denounced that killing last August, a few months after the party was
founded, as an attempt to intimidate the opposition. But a consensus
quickly grew that Mr Golovlyov might well have died for murkier reasons: as
the head of a privatisation scheme in the early 1990s, he was alleged to
have embezzled large sums of money from people whose power later grew as
his did not. 

After Mr Yushenkov's death, in contrast, politicians of all stripes lined
up to attest to his honesty and lack of interest in business, and to hint
at political motives. He had a history as a dissident: first as a Soviet
army colonel who publicly argued for military reform, then as a legislator
who criticised authoritarian tendencies in post-Soviet governments.

He had lobbied against the military campaigns in Chechnya. After a series
of apartment-block bombings in 1999 that killed 300 people, Mr Yushenkov
and a handful of other deputies began investigating allegations that they
were not, as claimed, the work of Chechen terrorists, but of the
authorities themselves, eager to stoke popular support for the second
campaign in Chechnya, which began shortly afterwards. Mr Yushenkov kept
plugging away at the theory, and last year he helped Boris Berezovsky, an
exiled business magnate and Liberal Russia's main financial backer, to
distribute a film about it.

That connection means that even if business or personal reasons were not
behind Mr Yushenkov's death, there is no shortage of conceivable political
ones. Supporters of the bombing conspiracy theory think he was getting too
close to the truth. Others point to his public falling-out with Mr
Berezovsky, whom he expelled from Liberal Russia after the tycoon voiced
support for the Communists. Mr Berezovsky, himself an arch-enemy of the
Kremlin, claimed that the rift between the two men was exaggerated, to
allow Liberal Russia to win official approval as a party, which it had
trouble getting because of its links with himself. Some devious minds think
Mr Yushenkov was killed specifically to cast suspicion on Mr Berezovsky.

There are more pedestrian theories. On April 23rd police arrested a young
man fitting the killer's description, whose father had been jailed a few
years previously for making threats against Mr Yushenkov. Revenge, they
said, could be the motive.

Few people, however, doubt that the murder was indeed a contract killing:
mainly because, as in many such cases, the killer left the gun behind.
While contract hits are not as frequent as in the wild days of the early
1990s, a steady trickle of fairly high-ranking officials, along with many
smaller fry who do not make the news, are still shot to order every year.
And the gunmen are hardly ever caught, probably because whoever ordered the
hit has the power to thwart the investigation.

The only other victim to match both Mr Yushenkov's level of respect and his
reputation for cleanliness was Galina Starovoitova, an MP who championed
human rights and was shot dead in 1998; only last year were six men
arrested for the murder, and whoever ordered it is still free. The chances
of Mr Yushenkov's killers being caught, let alone the man or men behind the
murder, are probably no greater.


The Economist (UK)
April 26, 2003 
More power to them

JUST two weeks ago, rumours abounded that a big international oil company
would buy Sibneft, a medium-sized Russian firm--taking a lead from BP,
which acquired 50% of Tyumen Oil Company in February. But on April 22nd
Yukos, Russia's biggest producer of oil, and Sibneft announced that they
would--minority shareholders willing--be tying the knot.

Rather cheekily, they describe their new firm, YukosSibneft, as a "new
international super-major". In terms of reserves or crude-oil production,
that is true: it will probably top both ChevronTexaco and TotalFinaElf. But
it will be no match for firms such as BP and Exxon Mobil that are much more
diversified, both in business and geographical terms. YukosSibneft will
still make most of its money from pumping out and exporting crude. 

That, to some analysts, makes the business logic behind the merger a little
shaky. Both firms could arguably have done better by joining forces with a
globally integrated foreign firm than with a Russian one. Russian oil firms
are relatively cheap partly because they are so focused on crude. And they
have more than enough oil already--their problem is getting the stuff out
of the country. The state-owned pipeline system is overstretched, and there
has been no louder critic than Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Yukos's boss, of the
Russian government's stubborn refusal--until recently--to allow private
hands to build and own more pipelines.

The terms of the deal, announced hurriedly and with little detail, also
raise some suspicions. Yukos, says James Fenkner at Troika Dialog, a Moscow
investment bank, has a history of buying cheap. Yet it paid a premium for
Sibneft, already the most expensive firm on the market per barrel of
reserves. (It generates more cash per barrel than its rivals, counters Adam
Landes of Renaissance Capital.) And the proposed terms of the deal look
pretty cushy too: $3 billion in cash to the main Sibneft shareholders,
Roman Abramovich and his associates, for a 20% stake (the rest to be
converted by a share swap), plus extra-large dividends to Yukos
shareholders before the deal is completed. "The smart money may be getting
out," says Mr Fenkner. The goal, at best, may be to prevent the main
shareholders losing out from a future drop in oil prices, as well as to
allow Mr Abramovich--never an oilman at heart--a graceful and
well-cushioned exit.

The merger's other result, though, will be to prevent foreign firms from
snapping up a large Russian oil stake for the time being. YukosSibneft will
probably be too big to devour in the foreseeable future, and there are no
other likely candidates. "A barrel of Russian oil in the ground," points
out Eric Kraus at Sovlink, another investment firm, "is worth about a
quarter of what it would be on the books of a globally integrated firm."
There are rumours that the Kremlin put pressure on Mr Abramovich not to
sell to a foreigner. Whether or not that is true, the powers-that-be are
undoubtedly happier for Russian firms, rather than foreign ones, to control
the nation's cheap oil.

And Mr Khodorkovsky too is bound to be pleased. Just a week earlier the
government reversed its position on pipeline ownership, giving him and his
peers a provisional green light to build a 2m-barrel-a-day link from the
oilfields of Western Siberia to the northern port of Murmansk. Now he will
be the boss of a company worth around $35 billion, some 30% of the Russian
stockmarket, and with more political clout than ever. He has said he will
retire in 2007 and has been giving money to various political parties.
Whatever his ambitions may be, he is now better placed than ever to realise


Newsweek International
May 5, 2003  
Moscow in the Money 
Russia is buzzing over big oil deals, and good times 
By Eve Conant

     He needs no further introduction in Moscow, but Europe’s richest man
under 40 still likes to advertise. Green-hued billboards marking the
10-year anniversary of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s oil giant, Yukos, crop up
every few hundred meters on Moscow’s busiest roads. The latest shows a
sparkling gas pump pouring fuel into a symbol of Russian national pride: a
space rocket in midlaunch, spitting fire. The message: riding an oil boom,
Russia is regaining its lost status as a world player. 
     MOSCOW HAS BEEN abuzz since last week, when Khodorkovsky, a
39-year-old billionaire, announced plans to acquire a smaller rival,
Sibneft. The $15 billion union creates a new Russian icon, a home-grown
megacompany that will own the second largest oil reserves in the world
after ExxonMobil and pump more oil than ChevronTexaco. It also thwarts the
ambitions of the world majors trying to break into Russia’s market. Both
Royal Dutch Shell and France’s TotalFinaElf were rumored to be angling for
a deal with Sibneft, too. The new company, YukosSibneft Oil, will be the
world’s sixth largest producer, pumping 2.3 million barrels of oil a day,
about the same as Kuwait or pre-war Iraq. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail
Kasyanov excitedly called YukosSibneft a “flagship” of the Russian economy,
even though it doesn’t formally exist yet.
      Russia’s oil industry has been basking in the global limelight ever
since 9-11, which redoubled concerns over dependency on the Middle East. In
the age of terrorism, Siberia doesn’t look like the wild, wild East
anymore. Oil production is rising again after a long slump, fueling a
boomtown optimism throughout Russia. Petro dollars have erased fear of
another embarrassing international default, like the one Moscow forced on
the world in 1998; the Central Bank now sits on foreign currency reserves
of $55 billion. According to Hermitage Capital Management, a Moscow
investment bank, Russia has become one of the most sound emerging-market
economies, with healthy trade and budget surpluses and GNP growth of 6.5
      The danger is that Russia could become a petrol economy stumbling
from crisis to crisis with an entrenched oil elite. The Yukos-Sibneft deal
puts $3 billion, a sum equal to 1 percent of Russian GDP, into the pockets
of a small group of tycoons led by Sibneft’s major shareholder, Roman
Abramovich. And it comes only two months after BP paid $6.75 billion for a
joint venture with Russia’s third largest oil producer, Tyumen Oil, which
is also dominated by a few magnates. “Oil mergers in the last three months
have put $6 billion into the bank accounts of less than a dozen Russian
citizens,” says James Fenkner, head of research for Troika Dialogue, a
private investment company.
      The fact that the boom is increasingly an all-Russian affair is a
switch. In the 1990s, foreigners lost millions in Russian markets, while
Russian tycoons sent their money offshore. “Nowadays the largest foreign
direct investment in Russia comes from Cyprus and the Netherlands, which is
essentially Russian money being recycled back into Russia,” says Hermitage
CEO William Browder. A case in point is Mikhail Fridman, the chairman of
Alfa Bank and one of the oligarchs who amassed fortunes after the Soviet
collapse. “If I can invest here and my money will make an annual, say, 10
percent profit, why keep it in a Swiss bank account for 1 percent interest?
It’s not a question of emotions, it’s simple math,” says Fridman, who is
unsentimental about selling Russian assets. He was one of the big players
behind the sale of Tyumen Oil to BP.
      Many Russians are more emotional about their oil wealth. The BP deal
was a global stamp of approval for doing business in Russia, but political
considerations are making homegrown sales much more attractive. “Yukos and
Sibneft elbowed out all the foreigners,” says Fenkner. It’s not clear how
deeply the Kremlin was involved, but the result helps protect President
Vladimir Putin from charges that Russia is selling off its natural wealth
as he prepares for elections later this year. After Tyumen Oil, there may
be political room for one more big foreign sale, says Browder. Any more
“would be like selling Rockefeller Plaza to the Japanese.”   
     Fortunately, analysts say Russia’s fundamentals are improving along
with its mood. The YukosSibneft deal sent shares in Russian oil soaring
last week; the Russian market has risen 500 percent in dollar terms since
1999. But what strikes Fridman are the signs of stability, like healthy
cash reserves. “I don’t believe in boom-time anything,” because of the
crashes that follow, he says. “What is much more exciting is steady, stable
growth. From that point of view, I think we’re finally getting started.”
There is a huge to do list, from reforming market dysfunctions left over
from the Soviet era to finding new sources of wealth beyond oil. But it is
nonetheless conceivable that after the boom will come normal times, which
would be a real novelty after all the turbulence in Russia. 


Wall Street Journal Europe
April 25-27, 2003 
In Case You Missed This Mega-Deal
Mr. Socor is senior fellow of the Washington-based Institute for
Advanced Strategic & Political Studies.

	While Europe was sleeping--and America fought in Iraq--the
Kremlin has taken a major step toward monopolizing the transit of
Caspian energy resources, thus adding to Europe's dependence on energy
supplies from Russia (and, at the same time, reducing hopes for
Afghanistan's future development). That step would merge Turkmenistan's
immense deposits of natural gas with those of Russia, into one export
pool under Russian control.
	Turkmenistan holds the world's third-largest proven reserves of
gas (after Russia and Iran), but the Turkmen deposits are not fully
explored or even prospected. Turkmenistan's gas export potential,
however, is of an order of magnitude roughly comparable to Russia's.
Turkmen gas output (54 billion cubic meters in 2002, 68 billion
anticipated for 2003) can, with relatively modest investments and in
short order, be restored to the late Soviet-era level of some 90 billion
cubic meters annually, almost all of which would be available for
export. Russia's current gas exports are not much larger at
approximately 110-115 billion cubic meters annually, with a steady
tendency to decrease.
	On April 11 in the Kremlin, Presidents Vladimir Putin and
Saparmurat Niazov--along with Russia's Gazprom and the Turkmen state gas
company--signed a set of agreements which, if implemented, would create
a permanent Russian lock on Turkmenistan's gas resources and exports.
Turkmenistan is to deliver 2 trillion cubic meters of gas to Russia for
a 25-year period, 2004-2028. Annual deliveries are to grow from a
relatively modest 6 billion cubic meters in 2004 to 80 billion cubic
meters in 2009. 
	Under the agreements, Russia would in 2004-2006 pay Turkmenistan
a paltry $44 per thousand cubic meters, made almost risible by the
stipulation that only $22 would be paid in cash, and $22 in the form of
Russian-made goods and services of a quality not marketable elsewhere
for currency. By contrast, Gazprom sells its gas to European countries
at prices ranging from $90 to $120 per thousand cubic meters--all cash. 
	Thanks to the agreement just signed, an increasing proportion of
Gazprom's deliveries to Europe will consist of Turkmen gas. The Russian
state monopoly will rake in the differential. Gazprom's purchase price
for Turkmen gas is to be recalculated in 2007 taking into account the
dynamics of international prices--thus suggesting a possible adjustment
by Russia of both the purchase price to Turkmenistan and the resale
price to Europe, while basically retaining the existing differential. 
	At the signing ceremony in Moscow, Mr. Putin explained how the
massive inflow of Turkmen gas will "benefit the Russian economy: it
solves such an important problem as the energy balance in the country,
demonstrates that Russia will without doubt honor its gas supply
obligations [to Europe], and will help Russia develop an energy
partnership with the European Union."
	Translation: First, the low-priced Turkmen gas will fill a
growing proportion of Russia's internal consumption requirements,
freeing up a correspondingly growing proportion of Russian gas for
high-priced export to the West. Second, Gazprom will draw on Turkmen gas
in order to honor Gazprom's supply contracts with European countries,
earning windfall profits even if Russia's gas output and exports
stagnate or decline. And, third, by quasi-monopolizing the transit and
marketing of Turkmen gas to points west, Russia will be strongly placed
to mobilize European Union investments in order to upgrade Gazprom's
aging network of transit pipelines across Russia's territory. 
	The Kremlin and Gazprom also count on European investments to
overhaul the Soviet-era pipelines that run from Turkmenistan, via
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, to Russia, plugging into Gazprom's network.
Those pipelines across Central Asia are currently capable of an annual
throughput of some 50 billion cubic meters of gas, which is about half
of their Soviet-era capacity. Mr. Putin apparently reckons that once
Russia controls the transit of Turkmen and other Central Asian gas, the
European consumer countries will have to foot the bill for bringing that
gas to Russia.
	And that's not all. The easy availability of Turkmen gas will
enable Russia to postpone the high-cost development of Arctic and
Siberian gas projects, such as the Shtokman and Yamal fields and
pipelines. It will also enable the Russian government to perpetuate
nonmarket arrangements, such as the state-imposed cap on the price of
gas on the internal market at a mere $21.50 per thousand cubic meters.
This price is so low in relation to the extraction and transportation
costs of Russian gas that even Gazprom ends up starved of investment
funds. This is one reason why the Kremlin would like to reach into the
European Union's pockets for investment in Russian gas development
projects. It would be a form of EU subsidy to a giant unreformed sector
of Russia's economy. 
	At present, the EU has strong objections to Russia's
artificially low internal price for gas. This practice cuts
substantially the production costs of Russian industrial goods, thus
enabling exporters to undercut West European industries in EU and other
markets. This is why the EU calls for long-overdue reforms of Russia's
gas sector, as an important precondition to Russia's admission to the
World Trade Organization. Now, however, the easy availability of
low-priced Turkmen gas will act as an added disincentive for Russia to
reform its internal gas market, and may make it more tempting for it to
compete unfairly against European goods in European markets. 
	A little more than a year ago, Mr. Putin had called for the
creation of a cartel of natural gas exporting countries, to consist of
Russia and three former Soviet-ruled countries in Central Asia, foremost
among them Turkmenistan. Dubbed an "OPEC for gas," the basic idea is to
turn Russia into the sole route for Central Asian gas to Europe, killing
the alternative plan for a westbound pipeline out of Turkmenistan. That
U.S.- and British-supported project had envisaged a trans-Caspian
pipeline for Turkmen gas going west, via the South Caucasus and Turkey
and on to the Balkans, on the shortest possible route to European
markets. The erratic Mr. Niazov ultimately scuttled that project through
outlandish financial demands and capricious gamesmanship with the
consortium. The Kremlin then stepped in with an offer that the isolated
Turkmen dictator could hardly refuse.
	With this, Moscow seems to be winning on another front as well.
Turkmenistan's mega-deal with Russia might leave insufficient Turkmen
gas for export to and through Afghanistan and Pakistan (at commercially
attractive prices). That project is strongly supported by the United
States and by the Afghan administration of President Hamid Karzai. It is
meant to give Turkmenistan an outlet to the Indian Ocean and to provide
a vital source not only of energy, but also of transit revenue in hard
currency to Afghanistan. It can also form a major nation-building tool
in Afghanistan, with the incentive for tribes and warlords to cooperate
in the trans-Afghan pipeline project. 
	For its part, Russia favors a project to supply Iranian gas to
Afghanistan. The two-fold goal is to send Iranian gas away from European
markets--preserving those for Russia--and to enable Iran to increase its
influence in Afghanistan to the West's detriment. They never stopped
playing the zero-sum games. With the recent Kremlin agreement with
Turkmenistan, elements of the wider Russian strategy are already in


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