Johnson's Russia List
28 April 2003
A CDI Project

  1. Rosbalt: 69% of Russians Say They Profess a Religion.
  2. Rosbalt: Education in Russia Needs USD 1.5 Billion by 2004 to Avert 
  3. New York Times editorial: The Road to St. Petersburg.
  4. Interfax: U.S. spy submarine detected near Kamchatka.
  5. Reuters: Soyuz relieves stranded U.S.-Russian space crew.
  6. Los Angeles Times: David Holley, Russia to Beef Up Tajikistan Presence.
Putin says the military forces will help preserve stability and stop drug 
and terror activities. 
  7. Atlanta Journal and Constitution: Nadzeya Dziskavets, Democracy's
when too swift, brings chaos.
  8. Luba Schwartzman: TV1 Review.
  9. Michele Berdy: SARS.
  10. Rossiiskie Vesti: Igor Dmitriev, ORDERED INTO THE WEST. The merger of 
the oil giants: YUKOS and Sibneft.
  11. Sobesednik: Vladlen Maximov, THE OLIGARCHS WILL VOTE WITH THEIR DOLLARS.
A look at where the political parties are getting their campaign funding.
  12. Rossiiskie Vesti:  Alexei Sergeev, THE ART OF TIGHTROPE-WALKING.
An overview of the current state of the Yabloko party.
  13. Russians unhappy with their generals.
  14. Rosbalt: US Ambassador on Russian Oil Contracts with Iraq.
  15. Wall Street Journal: Geoffrey Smith, Russian Oil Majors Are Getting It 
Right at Last.
  16. The Sunday Times (UK) book review: Simon Sebag Montefiore, History: 
Stalin's Last Crime by Jonathan Brent and Vladimir Naumov.
  17. Los Angeles Times book review: Lesley Chamberlain, Dark side of the 
moon. (re Gulag, A History by Anne Applebaum)
  18. Moscow Times: Alla Startseva, Blueprint to Liquidate UES by 2006 
Moscow must regard critically the U.S. attempts to establish global 
superiority by force. (interview with Alexei PUSHKOV)]


April 28, 2003
69% of Russians Say They Profess a Religion 

MOSCOW, April 26. In recent years the number of Russians who consider
themselves religious believers and the number of Russians who consider
themselves Orthodox has increased. According to a recent survey by the
Public Opinion fund , this year 69% of respondents said that they profess a
religion. Moreover, 59% of those questioned identified themselves as
Orthodox, 8% Muslim and 2% other religions. 30% of those questioned did not
consider themselves religious. In 1997 the same index had 62% professing a
religion and 38% not professing a religion. 

In addition, the survey showed that 65% of Russians consider Easter a
'special holiday.' 83% of those questioned said they plan to celebrate
Easter somehow or other. However, only 16% of those questions intended on
celebrating the holiday in church. At the same time, 42% of respondents
said they planned to celebrate Easter with their family around the table,
36% planned to consecrate Easter cake and eggs, and 32% planned to visit a
cemetery. Lent was observed by 9% of Russians this year compared to 6% in
2000 and 8% in 2002.

1500 respondents participated in the surveys which were held across Russia
on August 9, 1997 and April 19, 2003. 


April 28, 2003
Education in Russia Needs USD 1.5 Billion by 2004 to Avert Degradation

MOSCOW, April 26. In 2004 education will require an additional USD 1.5
billion including USD 871 million for the transition to a branch system of
work pay, according to Yabloko Party State Duma Deputy Alexander Shishlov
at a session of the State Duma committee for education and science on Friday.

Shishlov said that the government's conducting of work for optimization of
budget expenses 'must not be looked at as an instrument for economizing
expenses on education.' He also said that budget expenses on education must
be increased, because 'the continuation of the present level of pay for
teachers and financing of expenses in the development of material bases for
schools and institutions of higher education will inevitably lead to the
degradation of the entire system of education.'

The committee and the Ministry of Education prepared a joint proposal for a
top-priority budget with political importance. Particularly the proposal
calls for the increase in pay for teachers, increase in expenses on
acquisition of learning equipment and on the development of an information
base for education, and also on repairs for dormitories. 


New York Times
April 27, 2003
The Road to St. Petersburg

While the Bush administration has decided to punish France for its
opposition to the war in Iraq, it seems inclined to forgive Russia its
transgressions. We would favor mending fences with France as well, but at
least the White House understands the importance of repairing relations
with the Kremlin so the two nations can work together on common problems. 

To that end, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, recently
traveled to Moscow, and President Bush still plans to visit President
Vladimir Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg this spring for its 300th
anniversary. We hope the meeting will not be another symbolic embrace, but
an earnest attempt to turn the good chemistry of the Bush-Putin
relationship into an enduring partnership between the two nations. 

The reason is not only that magnanimity in victory is wise, nor even the
vast leftover arsenal of Soviet nuclear missiles. The fact is that we need
Russia's help on a variety of critical issues. The war on terrorism, on
nuclear proliferation, on the illicit trade in arms or drugs - all these
require intense international cooperation. Russia, more than many
countries, is critical as an ally. 

Few countries have as much relevant real estate in the war on terrorism as
Russia, whose endless border winds through some of the most explosive
regions on two continents. No country has as many arms, technology or
experts to proliferate. The Soviet Union had advanced programs in
biological and chemical weapons, and Russians know how to combat them. 

Unfortunately, the relationship has been largely one-sided - in
Washington's favor - since Mr. Bush famously declared that he had looked
into Mr. Putin's soul and found a partner to be trusted. Mr. Putin offered
considerable help in Afghanistan, and he swallowed NATO expansion and the
scuttling of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty. But he has received little
in return beyond Washington's misguided decision to go mute on Russia's
brutal war in Chechnya.

That puts Mr. Putin in a vulnerable position. He still presides over a
governing bureaucracy heavily laced with cold warriors who resent American
power, and they have wasted no time in accusing him of kowtowing to
Washington. This, in fact, is shaping up as the dominant battle in
parliamentary elections later this year, and it is one reason Mr. Putin
sided so publicly with France and Germany against the American war in Iraq. 

A helping hand now from Washington, despite Mr. Putin's stand on Iraq,
would go a long way toward demonstrating to his electorate that his opening
to the West is not a humiliating failure, and it would encourage him to
stay the course in his next term. Giving Russia a serious stake in postwar
Iraq, for example, would do much to help. 

The benefits might extend well beyond retaining Mr. Putin as a soul mate.
An anxious world is looking for signs that the United States is not the
arrogant and vindictive superpower so many fear. Supporting Mr. Putin would
also show that the United States is serious about helping emerging
democracies. It wasn't that long ago, after all, that Russia pulled down
its own statues. 


U.S. spy submarine detected near Kamchatka

VLADIVOSTOK. April 28 (Interfax) - An American spy submarine has been
detected near the Kamchatka Peninsula coast in Russia's Far East. 
   The headquarters of the Russian Northeastern Forces told Interfax early
on Monday that a Los Angeles class submarine had been following the
Northeastern Forces' exercises when it was detected in the Avachinsky Bay
on Sunday. 
   After detecting the sub, Russian naval ships and aircraft forced it from
Russian territorial waters. 
   The command post exercises of the Northeastern Forces, which were
designed to sum up the winter training cycle, involved 15 surface ships and
submarines, 10 support ships, 20 aircraft, over 10,000 servicemen and some
5,000 civilian specialists. 
   Commander of the Russian Pacific Fleet Adm. Viktor Fyodorov was in
charge of the exercises. 


Soyuz relieves stranded U.S.-Russian space crew
By Richard Balmforth

MOSCOW, April 28 (Reuters) - An American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut
boarded a space station 410 km (250 miles) above earth on Monday, relieving
a three-man crew forced to stay an extra two months in space by the U.S.
Columbia tragedy.

Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko and U.S. flight engineer Edward Lu were
greeted with hugs by their three space comrades -- two Americans and one
Russian -- after crawling through a hatch into the orbiting station from
their Soyuz capsule.

"Everything is fine. The craft has docked with the station. The crew are
feeling fine," a Russian mission control official told Reuters by telephone
from a control centre outside Moscow shortly after docking.

The Soyuz TMA-2, which took them to the International Space Station after
blasting off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on Saturday, was the first manned
space craft launched since the U.S. Columbia shuttle broke up on re-entry
on February 1.

The tragedy, in which seven astronauts were killed, led to the grounding of
the U.S. shuttle fleet and forced the three-man crew to extend their
projected return date by about two months.

Until U.S. space authorities have made a final decision on the future of
the shuttle programme, the Russian Soyuz is the principal life-line now for
the $95 billion, 16-nation station.

After briefing the incoming crew, U.S. astronauts Ken Bowersox and Donald
Pettit and Russia's Nikolai Budarin are due to return to earth on May 4 on
a back-up Soyuz -- the first time U.S. astronauts have come home on a
Russian vessel.

TV showed the five together giving a thumbs-up sign for success shortly
after Malenchenko, 41, and Lu, 39, had boarded. The pair will stay on the
station until October.

Beyond the official euphoria over the successful docking, Russian officials
made no secret of their persistent concern for the long-term financial
future of the ISS if no extra funds are forthcoming from the United States.

"If a concrete programme of future financing is not undertaken in the near
future, Russia will run up against huge problems in fulfilling the ISS
programme," Yuri Semyonov, head of RKK Energia, the company responsible for
building the Soyuz capsules, told reporters.

Crews have been reduced to two from three members in the wake of the
Columbia disaster, restricting the scale of scientific experiments that can
be conducted on the ISS.

Space officials said the schedule of work planned for Malenchenko and Lu
would include medical and biological experiments and monitoring of the
earth's climate.

The pair also brought birthday gifts for Pettit who turned 48 on April 20
and Budarin who will be 50 on Tuesday.


Los Angeles Times
April 28, 2003
Russia to Beef Up Tajikistan Presence
Putin says the military forces will help preserve stability and stop drug
and terror activities.
By David Holley, Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — Russia will boost its military presence in the Central Asian
nation of Tajikistan to stem the flow of terrorism and drugs from
neighboring Afghanistan and promote stability in the region, President
Vladimir V. Putin said Sunday while visiting the former Soviet republic.

"A truly peaceful and stable Afghanistan is still a very long way away,"
Putin said in televised remarks to officers of a Russian motorized infantry
division based in Tajikistan. "Moreover, our special services, including
those from the Defense Ministry, have recently reported the Taliban and Al
Qaeda significantly stepping up their activities and rebuilding their
networks. It is up to the anti-terrorist international coalition to improve
and intensify its efforts."

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, an
American presence has grown in Central Asia with Putin's acquiescence. U.S.
forces have used Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to support operations in
Afghanistan, where more than 11,000 U.S. and allied troops are searching
for remnants of the ousted Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda

But Moscow still sees the region as its own sphere of influence. Russia
currently has an estimated 10,000 to 14,000 troops in Tajikistan who help
guard the country's long and porous border with Afghanistan.

Putin and Tajik President Emamali Rakhmonov ordered officials to prepare an
agreement for signing by the end of May on building a new main base for
Russian forces in the country and defining their legal status, Russian news
agencies reported from Dushanbe, the Tajik capital.

Russia's military presence helped former Communist boss Rakhmonov hang on
to power through a 1992-97 civil war, which was ended through a
power-sharing deal with militant Islamic opponents.

Moscow has also recently announced plans to build up its military presence
in Kyrgyzstan.

Putin's aim is to solidify the status quo in Central Asia, not to try to
throw the U.S. out, said Ivan Safranchuk, director of the Moscow branch of
the Washington-based Center for Defense Information.

"It has already become clear to policymakers at the Kremlin that Russia
will not be able to control the entire Central Asian region solely on its
own," Safranchuk said. "Today, the responsibility for maintaining security
and stability in Central Asia is shared between Russia and the U.S. And
since Russia has traditionally dominated in Tajikistan, this will become
Russia's zone of responsibility."

Putin was in Tajikistan on a three-day visit for meetings of the Eurasian
Economic Community interstate council and the Collective Security Treaty
Council, bodies aimed at rebuilding links between the former Soviet states. 

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, chairman of the economic
council, said its meeting included discussions of stepped-up cooperation to
fight drug trafficking.

In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov told reporters
Sunday that Russia wants to see tougher measures to fight increased drug
production in Afghanistan, including incentives to discourage opium poppy
farming. Opium and heroin from Afghanistan often are smuggled across
Tajikistan and on to Russia and Western Europe. Partly as a result, drug
addiction is growing rapidly in Russia.

Trubnikov also said the general effectiveness of coalition forces in
Afghanistan is "so far not very high."

Putin also met in Dushanbe with Supreme Mufti Amonulla Nematzade, the
leader of Tajikistan's Muslims. Putin stressed that because millions of
Russian citizens are Muslim, "this gives us the right to view Russia as
part of the Muslim world to some extent."

Putin's comments reflected an effort to prevent Russia's role in
Tajikistan, and in the international anti-terrorist coalition, from being
seen in terms of religious conflict, Safranchuk said.

Alexei V. Kuznetsov of The Times' Moscow Bureau contributed to this report.


Atlanta Journal and Constitution
April 28, 2003
Democracy's arrival, when too swift, brings chaos
By Nadzeya Dziskavets
Nadzeya Dziskavets, a Russian native, is a writer living in Atlanta.

Autocracy, with its cagelike structure and lack of personal freedoms, is
bad, right? Democracy, filled with rights and freedoms, is good, right? Maybe.

I think about what happened when another autocratic regime was overthrown.
More than 10 years ago, Russia became a democratic society. Just like today
in Iraq, it all happened too suddenly. 

Initially, the air was filled with hopes and bewilderment. New faces on
television promised a bright future, filled with freedoms and possibilities.

But after the first excitement and triumph, after all monuments of removed
leaders came down, after the dust had settled, people were left with more
questions than answers. Instead of a happy ever after, there was a mess,
which no one really knew how to clean up.

At first, most people did not know what to do with their newfound freedoms.
Older people were too old to change, so they continued to live quietly and
passively. Most of them never got to use their rights, because they never
got to understand them.

Young people found great advantage in new possibilities, which initially
were so endless that the country was engrossed with chaos.

Many old laws didn't apply to the new situations, and new laws were not
written yet. The country's legal system became one huge loophole, and many
enjoyed jumping through it.

Those with old political connections became commercial mafia. They used
their connections to buy products for the price dictated by
government-enforced social programs, and later sold these goods for a
free-market price. They made so much money that they didn't know what to do
with it.

Those who before were called hooligans and were under the community's
watchful eye for their lawlessness now got a chance to let out their
aggression. They became criminal mafia. Robbery, homicide and violence
splashed out on the streets like worms out of an opened can.

Those who didn't have connections or aggression stole. Over years, huge
plants were stripped down to bare walls, piece by piece. One morning a
whole street could wake up with no lights because someone stole all the
cables. Everything that could be sold or used became quarry.

Those who were good, honest, hardworking people felt like ducks that paddle
hard but can't get anywhere. Hopes and excitement diminished quickly.

Freedom from censorship brought information that changed people forever.
Imported movies, hip-hop and rap music, and advertisements carried one
strong message: You are what you have.

A longtime deprived public started consuming, but what they got wasn't
exactly the best. For a while, the market was overwhelmed with old
groceries, Salvation Army clothing, overpriced electronics and blue jeans.

Russia became a great dump for American enterprise. That was the greatest
American victory.

After several years of this, more and more people started looking back at
those predemocratic days with nostalgia. Many of those who didn't manage to
adapt to a new life found a joy in talking about the old one.

The lesson that can be learned from Russia's dramatic political
transformation is that when regime change happens so suddenly, the core
foundation of people's lives is shattered. The citizens are told that
everything they once believed in is a lie, and this is why now they live in

Good ideals and values often get thrown away along with bad ones. In
Russia, such values as hard, honest work and sense of community were
rejected by many, along with unmasked political ideals.

It will take an enormous time for the country to find its face and for
people to find their place in it.

So, maybe democracy is ultimately better than autocracy, but new converts,
like those in Russia and now in Iraq, may not see its virtue just yet. Some
things, when broken, create a lot of dust. Will this dust ever settle?


TV1 Review
Compiled by Luba Schwartzman (
Research Analyst, Center for Defense Information, Moscow office

Saturday, April 26, 2003
- Russian President Vladimir Putin is in on a three-day visit to
Tajikistan.  He will meet with the Tajik leadership, sign a number
of joint agreements, participate in the summit of the Eurasian
Economic Community, attend a session of the Collective Security
Council and visit the 201st division of the Russian Armed Forces.
Putin emphasized the importance of economic cooperation,
including cooperation in the energy sphere and oversight of Tajik
citizens who travel to Russia to work.  Tajik President Emomali
Rakhmonov noted the importance of the fight against the drug
trade and cooperation between the security services.
- The North Caucasus Internal Forces Institute held its 97th
graduation ceremony.  Most of the 174 young lieutenants will be
deployed to Chechnya in a month.
- The North Pole-32 scientific research station begins operations
on a drifting ice floe, currently 150 kilometers away from the
North Pole.  Researchers return to the Arctic after a 12-year break.
- Activists of the youth section of the United Russia Party
organized "subbotniks" (Saturdays of community service)
throughout Russia.
- Azerbaijani President Geidar Aliev fainted while giving a speech
at a military institute.
- Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and his American
colleague Edward Lu are on their way to the International Space
Station, where they will spend 185 days.  Russian Federation
Council Chairman Sergei Mironov attended the launch at the Baikanur 
Cosmodrome and conveyed greetings from President Putin to the crew.
- Many commemorated the 17th anniversary of the tragedy at the
Chernobyl nuclear plant.  The catastrophe has left its mark on huge
territories.  Some people are still living in contaminated regions.

Sunday, April 27, 2003
- The Intergovernmental Council of the Eurasian Economic
Community met in Dushanbe.  Kazakh President Nursultan
Nazarbaev has been reelected Chairman of the Council.  The
Council made decisions to conduct joint efforts against drug
traffickers, to grant observer status to Armenia and to cooperate in
taking steps towards entry into the World Trade Organization.
- President Putin visited the 201st motorized artillery division of
the Russian Armed Forces, deployed in Tajikistan.  Putin declared
that Russia plans to increase its military presence in Central Asia.
Putin noted that the 201st division promotes stability in Tajikistan.
- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov visited the Okno fiber-
optic complex near Nureka.  The complex can search out objects in
space at a distance of up to 40,000 kilometers.
- Over 100 children from the Makhachkala special home for the
hearing impaired are traveling to sanatoriums in Kislovodsk and
Zheleznovodsk for rehabilitation.
- Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia attended the Russian
Orthodox Easter service at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.
- The "Easter through the Eyes of Children" exhibit opened in
- Special security measures have been introduced at the Russian-
Chinese border.  All border guards wear masks and gloves to avoid
contamination with severe acute respiratory syndrome.
- Renowned Russian children's surgeon Leonid Roshal celebrates
his 70th birthday.
- Fidel Castro first visited the USSR 40 years ago today.
- Over 100 settlements have been flooded in the Volgograd Oblast.
- A lion and lioness escaped from their cage in the Moscow suburb
circus in Sergiev Posad and attacked their trainer.  He died before
police officers reached the scene.


From: Michele Berdy 
Subject: SARS
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 

In response to a query about SARS in Russia, I was at a meeting with the
head of WHO in Russia on late Friday afternoon and the answer is: at
present there are no registered cases of SARS in Russia.š Given the long
border with China, the influx of legal and illegal aliens from China and
their work in markets, Russian tourism to Asia (although it has nearly come
to a standstill right now) and other factors, it's clear that Russia is at
risk. šBut as far as I can tell, there is close collaboration between the
Ministry of Health and WHO and other international agencies, the ministry
issued clear instructions to medical facilities on diagnosing and treating
SARS as well as information for the public.š The media is covering SARS
extensively and rather sensationally, so it's hard to judge from that, but
it looks like the public health authorities are quarantining everyone who
might have come in contact with the virus (like a group of schoolchildren
who just came back from Peking).š 
Michele A. Berdy
Chief of Party
Healthy Russia 2020
125993 Moscow
Gazetny per. 5, IEPP, offices 351-368
(7-095) 933-5854


Rossiiskie Vesti
April 24, 2003
The merger of the oil giants: YUKOS and Sibneft
Author: Igor Dmitriev
[from WPS Monitoring Agency,]

     The merger of YUKOS and Sibneft announced on April 23 will have a 
great impact on politics as well as the economy. YUKOS chief executive 
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, considered to be Russia's richest citizen, will 
de facto become its leading oligarch - and he doesn't conceal his 
political interests.
     Until now, the title of "deal of the century" was held by the 
alliance between the Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) and British Petroleum, 
as a result of which the Alfa Group headed by Mikhail Fridman and Petr 
Aven gained the backing of the money and prestige of the British oil 
giant. Those involved in BP include Baroness Thatcher, which is some 
indication of the corporation's significance. However, the YUKOS-
Sibneft union has the potential to surpass the TNK-BP deal.
     In terms of direct participation in politics, no other oligarch 
can compare with Khodorkovsky's degree of political openness. He says 
he has given his political preferences to the Union of Right Forces 
and Yabloko, and is prepared to spend his own money on funding those 
parties. According to some reports, a senior YUKOS executive named 
Sergei Muravlenko is sponsoring the Communist Party - with the 
approval of his boss, of course. The United Russia party is 
conspicuously absent from this list of campaign donations.
     Khodorkovsky recently confirmed his political preferences by 
participating in an inter-party conference organized by the Union of 
Right Forces. Moreover, he harshly criticized Russia's foreign policy, 
saying it was overly-reliant on a "special friendship" with Europe, to 
the detriment of relations with the United States.
     It's hard to say whether Khodorkovsky's pro-American stance is 
due to his wish to export oil to the US, or vice versa. But the fact 
remains that Khodorkovsky has led the lobby effort for the planned oil 
pipeline from Western Siberia to Murmansk, where a terminal for oil 
tankers is being built.
     Russian law places the state in charge of oil pipelines. However, 
Transneft can't cope with a project of this magnitude; so the 
oligarchs, led by Khodorkovsky and Vagit Alekperov (LUKoil), offered 
their services. But Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov stood firm: there 
would be no private oil pipelines in Russia.
     After being rejected by the government, the oil companies turned 
to the parliament, receiving immediate support from a conference 
organized by the relevant Federation Council committee. So the 
situation moved forward to its logical conclusion.
     The government reconciled itself to the situation, and Kasianov 
approved work on plans for the pipeline. By a curious coincidence, 
this happened just before the abovementioned "deal of the century" was 
(Translated by Gregory Malutin)


April 23, 2003 
A look at where the political parties are getting their campaign funding
Author: Vladlen Maximov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency,]

     Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov appealed to all of us for money 
last week, money for the PR battle against United Russia: "Success in 
the elections will depend on media and advertising resources, so we 
have decided to appeal to all citizens, asking them to donate to the 
Communist Party."
     Specialists estimate that the total sum spent on the forthcoming 
election campaign will actually be around $2-3 billion. And it's 
rather hard to believe that ordinary citizens will provide anything 
out of their own pockets. However, there are some generous people in 
this world.
     The first of these is Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whom Forbes magazine 
has named the richest person in Russia. The strategic agreement with 
the YUKOS oil company could bring in at least $70 million for the 
Communist Party. Moreover, Khodorkovsky has promised to help out with 
personnel. During the election period, the Communist Party staff will 
be enhanced by a team of professionals headed by the leader of one of 
the YUKOS company's analytical divisions: Alexei Kondaurov, a former 
KGB major-general, who is predicted to become chairman of the People's 
Patriotic Union of Russia executive committee. The present chairman, 
Gennady Semigin, has been the target of open obstruction from the PPUR 
leadership for his "unnatural" ties with both the Kremlin and Boris 
     It turns out that Khodorkovsky is a man of broad views. Besides 
donating to the Communist Party, he has also promised $5-7 million to 
the Union of Right Forces and $11 million to Yabloko.
     The Union of Right Forces knows how to treat its sponsors, taking 
care not to let any of them acquire a "controlling interest". Sources 
say that besides the money from Khodorkovsky, the party is also 
accepting donations from Interros chief Vladimir Potanin, Alfa-Group 
owner Mikhail Fridman, and Anatoly Chubais. Of course, being a sponsor 
is more difficult for Chubais; since Russian Joint Energy Systems is a 
state-controlled company, he cannot spend money freely.
     However, it appears that United Russia won't have any problems 
with state funding. Some political consultants estimate the campaign 
budget of this pro-Kremlin party at up to $1 billion. Of course, this 
does not take the form of a vast pile of dollar bills in United 
Russia's basement: it's a matter of total assistance provided by 
regional governments, state enterprises, and the defense sector - 
whether this assistance is voluntary or enforced.
     Yabloko went through some hard time financially when Vladimir 
Gusinsky left Russia, so Khodorkovsky's help has been welcomed there. 
Moreover, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky can count on some money 
from Legprombank. Everyone's talking about Yabloko also getting some 
support from its German colleages in the Ebert-Nauman Foundation - but 
that's supposed to be a big secret! The idea of parties being funded 
by foreigners - especially Germans - carries undesirable connotations 
in Russia: one can almost hear the wheels of the sealed train carriage 
that once brought Lenin back from abroad.
(Translated By Gregory Malutin)


Rossiiskie Vesti
April 24, 2003
An overview of the current state of the Yabloko party
Author: Alexei Sergeev
[from WPS Monitoring Agency,]

     Yabloko is considered to be among the five political parties with 
a real chance of overcoming the 5% entry barrier for in the Duma 
elections this coming December. Despite this, the party's relatively 
low voter support rating is forcing its leaders to play a delicate 
political game in the hope of finding a balance between Yabloko's 
traditional opposition image and the Kremlin's support. The 
presidential administration may be considering the option of using 
Yabloko as its main partner on the liberal flank, as it did with the 
Union of Right Forces (URF) in 1999.
     Yabloko's notorious habit of taking a stand on principles is 
viewed as its key asset, creating a favorable image for the party 
among its voters. Yabloko has consistently voted against government 
proposals on sensitive issues such as electricity sector reforms or 
housing and utilities reforms. Yabloko considers these reforms to be 
contrary to the interests of most Russian citizens. However, such a 
stand threatens to undermine the partnership with the Kremlin which 
Yabloko has worked so hard to bring about. According to its new 
formula, Yabloko is not opposed to the current regime as such - only 
to its drive to create an "authoritarian bureaucratic" system. Yabloko 
has also declared that it supports President Putin on foreign policy 
and security, but disagrees with the Kasianov Cabinet's economic 
policies. The problem is that voters may see this position as vague 
and contradictory.
     Yabloko's second asset is the fact that it has intelligent, loyal 
voters. However, many pollsters find it hard to determine who the 
"Yabloko voters" are. In our view, this is because there are two kinds 
of people who vote Yabloko. The first group is made up of liberals who 
care about civil rights, the big-city intelligentsia, and small 
business owners. The second group consists of state sector workers, 
mostly women: doctors and teachers in regional capitals and medium-
sized cities. The latter group is more numerous, but scattered all 
across Russia. The liberal Yabloko voters are concentrated in Moscow 
and St. Petersburg. And Yabloko finds itself constantly forced to 
maneuver between the two groups.
     Yabloko has developed a new "social-liberal" policy platform 
expressly for this purpose. In the interests of the former group of 
voters, it proposes to cut taxes, make a transition to a professional 
military, and protect free speech. For the second group, it offers 
housing and utilities reforms, as well as an alternative to the 
Chubais plan for electricity sector reforms.
     Yabloko's third asset is considered to be its experienced, 
professional Duma faction. Its ratio of bills signed into law per 
faction member is 1.5:1 - higher than that of any other faction. 
However, as deputy faction leader Sergei Ivanenko admits, Yabloko's 
proposals on key issues are not finding any support among the Duma's 
centrist majority. Hence, the party's lobbying capacities are somewhat 
     Yabloko's main drawback is undoubtedly its organizational 
weakness. Although Yabloko now has 35,000 members, that is still an 
order of magnitude below the membership numbers of the Communist Party 
and United Russia. Very few of Yabloko's branches have any real 
influence on regional politics, apart from those in St. Petersburg and 
a handful of regions.
     Nearly 500 Yabloko members hold elected office in regional and 
municipal legislatures across Russia, but only the St. Petersburg 
legislature has a Yabloko faction. Ten mayors of Russian cities are 
Yabloko members - but the largest of those cities is Arzamas, with a 
population of 180,000. This situation could change radically if 
Yabloko succeeds in forming an alliance with Governor Yuri Trutnev of 
the Perm region. He has recently started openly supporting the party.
     Another significant drawback is Yabloko's weak financial 
position. The financial crisis which the party experienced in 2000-01 
ended when it started receiving funding from the YUKOS oil company, 
headed by Mikhail Khodorkovsky. However, some rivals have appeared in 
this field. YUKOS has agreed to donate much more money to the 
Communist Party than it does to Yabloko. Khodorkovsky has his own 
people in some other parties as well.
     One might say that Yabloko's results in the next election depend 
not so much on the Kremlin's support, but on the extent to which the 
party succeeds in finding a balance between the interests of its voter 
groups, overcoming its organizational weakness, and diversifying its 
funding sources.
(Translated by Andrei Ryabochkin)


April 28, 2003
Russians unhappy with their generals

The vast majority of Muscovites are convinced that professionals must man
the Russian army, and not conscripts. Such is the outcome of an opinion
poll conducted by the All-Russian Centre for Public Opinion Studies
(VTsIOM), held in the Russian capital as the government was deciding
between the two plans for the transition to a contract-based system of
recruitment – the one submitted by the Defence Ministry or an alternative
drafted by the liberal Union of Rightist Forces. 

As Gazeta.Ru reported last week, the government endorsed the military
reform plan devised by the General Staff of the Defence Ministry.
Initially, the Ministry’s plan envisaged a large-scale transition of the
armed forces to a contract-based principle of recruitment to be completed
after 2010. An alternative plan proposed by the SPS (Union of Rightist
Forces) called for a far more radical solution to the problem. 

The liberals suggested that the transition to a military completely manned
by professional soldiers should be completed within three years, and called
for a reduction in the term of conscription from 2 years to 6 months, which
the conscripts would spend at training centres. 

As a result of the debate the government endorsed the Defence Ministry’s
plan, but agreed to accept some of the liberals’ proposals. Defence
Minister Sergei Ivanov conceded that the term of compulsory military
service might be reduced from 2 years to 12 months as early as 2008,
provided that by that time all permanent readiness units are fully manned
by professionals. 

Muscovites who took part in the VTsIOM poll on military reform were almost
unanimous in the belief that Russia needs a fully professional army. 86 per
cent of the respondents said that professionals, serving on a contract,
must make up the armed forces. 

9 per cent of respondents disagreed, while 5 per cent remained undecided.
One of the reasons for such unanimity lies in the hope that contract-based
recruitment will automatically solve the problem of bullying in the army.
Bullying was named as the main problem of the Russian army by 32 per cent
of the respondents. 

Many (29 per cent) said that bullying posed a serious problem, although
there are many other difficulties as well. And only a few respondents do
not consider bullying a problem. 5 per cent said that bullying was not a
serious problem, 1 per cent believed there is no such problem in the
Russian army at all, and 2 per cent were undecided. 

It is common knowledge that the General Staff and the head of the Defence
Ministry himself have nothing against a professional army, though ordinary
citizens, unlike the generals, insist that the reforms need to be
implemented as soon as possible. 63 per cent of respondents said they
should be launched immediately, and another 24 per cent said they could
wait, but no longer than 2-3 years. 

In the opinion of 5 per cent of the respondents, reforms must begin in the
next 5-10 years. Another 8 per cent failed to set a deadline. 

One-third of the respondents were sure they knew who opposes a faster
transition to a professional army: 33 per cent believe that the generals
are slowing down the process of military reform. 

However, while most respondents back the SPS plan in terms of its timing
(the SPS plans calls for a faster transition to the contract service), in
terms of financing they side with the generals. The Defence Ministry has
said the reforms would cost 135 billion roubles, while the liberal
politicians called for cuts to both the army and its costs, which would
mean, in their opinion, decent salaries for contract officers, allowing
them to rent apartments themselves and not waiting years for residential
space to be built by the Defence Ministry. 

The General Staff’s plan envisages capital investments in the army (for the
construction of barracks, the purchase and repair of military equipment,
etc.), which, the SPS claims can only be done after the transition to a
professional army is completed. On this point their proposals found little
support among the general population. When asked what must be done for the
army first and foremost, 36 per cent backed an increase of the military
budget. In the opinion of those Muscovites polled, this is more important
than the reform itself: only 26 per cent named abolishing conscription as a
top priority task. 

Rather unsurprisingly, the government is placed second after the military
on the list of those who, in the opinion of VTsIOM’s respondents, are
applying the brakes to the reform plan. 25 per cent spoke of the cabinet’s
resistance. Another 6 per cent maintain that none other than Vladimir Putin
himself is slowing the military reforms. Whether those respondents are
right will become clearer after June 1 when the final army reform plan is
to be submitted to the head of state. 


April 28, 2003
US Ambassador on Russian Oil Contracts with Iraq 

MOSCOW, April 25. US Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow did not rule
out that Russian oil contracts with Iraq, signed before the military
operations, could remain valid. He voiced this opinion in a live interview
with Mayak radio. According to the Ambassador, a decision should be made on
each contract separately. He stressed that these decisions would be up to
the new Iraqi government to be formed in the next few days and not
Washington. At the same time, Vershbow believes it is too early to raise
the issue of compensations for losses of Russian oil companies in Iraq.

Vershbow announced that the US Administration welcomed Russia's
participation in the development and restoration of the Iraqi economy. He
also confirmed the USA was going to spend from $50m to $100m for the
restoration of the Iraqi economy.


Wall Street Journal
April 28, 2003
Russian Oil Majors Are Getting It Right at Last
Mr. Smith is Russia bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires.

Last week's announced takeover of Russian oil giant Sibneft by its
competitor, Yukos, is less remarkable for the value it will create than for
what it says about the value that has already been created.

More than anything, it proves it is possible for entrepreneurs in Russia ,
as in any other country, to reap the just rewards of focused,
profit-oriented management and of consistent, fair treatment of investors
who offer to share risk. Other, less forward-looking, Russian managers
should take heed of that truth.

What the deal means for the future of Russian business, of Russia in
general, and of the global oil sector, is still anybody's guess. At any
rate it will depend on the as yet incalculable inclinations of Russian
President Vladimir Putin and his successors. It makes more sense to start
by looking at the deal as an illustration of what has, and what has not,
been achieved in Russia since the financial crisis of 1998.

The last time these two companies talked about a merger, neither was flush
with cash. Five years later, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Roman Abramovich,
Yukos's and Sibneft's largest shareholders, have created a $35 billion
company. For all the help they have had from high crude prices, for all
their rough treatment of competitors, creditors and, sometimes,
shareholders on the way, this is still a colossal achievement. Nobody could
pretend that YukosSibneft's reserve base would be afforded a market value
of $35 billion had it been in the hands of Gazprom's or Sberbank's management.

Messrs. Khodorkovsky and Abramovich have made such a runaway success of
applying the basic tenets of capitalism that it is painful to consider the
gulf between their companies and the rest of Russian business. Bill
Browder, chief executive of Hermitage Capital Management, says these two
men are almost entirely responsible for the explosive growth in the Russian
stock market over the last couple of years. Strip Yukos and Sibneft out,
and the 61% returns of the RTS index over the last three years would drop
to just 13%, as the nearby chart shows.
Mr. Khodorkovsky, who has worked hard to create public trust, is unlikely
now to risk a scandal by trying to buy out Sibneft's minority shareholders
at bargain-basement prices. The reputational damage of such a step, while
Yukos is preparing to list in New York, would cost far more than the $450
million difference between the price Mr. Abramovich got and the minimum
price minority shareholders are due under Russian law. In fact, since Yukos
will probably buy out Sibneft's minorities with stock rather than cash, it
may work out cheaper in the long run to be excessively generous to Sibneft
minorities, as such a demonstration of good faith could be rewarded by a
higher valuation at the NYSE listing. The best Russian entrepreneurs have
not only realized that honesty pays, they now know down to the last cent
how much it pays.

So much for the state of Russian capitalism. What about the logic of the
deal? The most obvious point is that it will have next to no effect on the
operational efficiency of their businesses. In that sense, it's not the
kind of deal that lives up to the firms' past record of value creation. The
two companies are already so lean that it is difficult to see where they
are going to cut costs or raise revenues on a per-barrel basis.

Equally, both already have credible strategies for the domestic
refined-products market, an issue that will grow in parallel with the
Russian consumer spending power, and the number of cars demanding
high-quality gasoline on Russian roads. Both firms export a high proportion
of their output, even if the shortcomings of the pipeline system currently
force them to use railcars and barges, taking a big bite out of their
profit margins. So it isn't as if this deal rescues either from the fate of
having to dump crude on the domestic market at prices as low as $4 a barrel.

But bulking up does offer greater financial strength and so cheaper
borrowing costs and bigger cash flows with which to fund the huge costs of
developing new fields in virgin regions such as Eastern Siberia, or new
export pipelines to Murmansk and to Daqing in China. On their own, such
advantages can hardly have been decisive in persuading Mr. Abramovich and
his associates to give up control of Sibneft. The rationale for the deal is
rather to be found in issues of market valuation and lobbying.

For all of their efforts, neither Yukos nor Sibneft had quite succeeded in
widening their investor base far beyond risk-friendly punters and more or
less esoteric emerging-market funds. Sometimes if the Moscow wind was
blowing in the right direction, you could imagine management pouting at the
injustice of it all: "Look at us! We're busting our guts to become BP, and
they still say we're only worth $3 per barrel of reserves!"

It is going to be much more difficult for mainstream investors to ignore a
company of YukosSibneft's combined scale. It is the world's fourth-largest
oil company by reserves, its sixth-largest by production. It is expected to
grow twice as fast as any of its bigger rivals over the next five years. It
will have eye-popping cash flows and a dividend payout in the region of a
quarter of net profits (one imagines Mr. Abramovich's blocking stake will
see to the last item).

But more than anything else, all the expectations of an international oil
major buying into Russia will now be priced into YukosSibneft alone. Both
Yukos and Sibneft were publicly for sale at the right price. Neither Lukoil
nor Surgutneftegaz, the remaining independent Russian majors, is. Mr.
Khodorkovsky has put himself in a unique seller's position vis-a-vis
ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, Royal Dutch/Shell and TotalFinaElf, which
certainly won't do his amour-propre any harm.

Whether YukosSibneft would -- or could -- be sold, is a more difficult
question. The lobbying power attached to $15 billion in annual revenues
might count for a lot. However, Mr. Putin, having consented to the creation
of a national champion, is likely to want it to stay national. And from
national champion to value destroyer is seldom a big leap, hard as it is to
imagine Mr. Khodorkovsky and Sibneft CEO Eugene Shvidler in that role.

Moreover, once YukosSibneft has started to flex its muscles, it may no
longer feel it needs a partner. There are already noises of the company
making acquisitions abroad, which suggest a certain change in perception of
its place in the world. After years of dreaming only of the final pay-off
from a supermajor, that really would signal a revolution.


The Sunday Times (UK)
April 27, 2003
book review
April 27, 2003 
Review: History: Stalin's Last Crime by Jonathan Brent and Vladimir Naumov
by Jonathan Brent and Vladimir Naumov
J Murray £20 pp399 

“Nothing impressed me so much as the doctor story,” wrote Winston Churchill
to President Eisenhower just after Stalin’s death in 1953. He was right to
be fascinated. The so-called “doctor’s plot” of early 1953, in which the
Kremlin’s mainly Jewish doctors (the “murderers in white coats”) were
accused of killing some of Stalin’s lieutenants and planning to kill the
dictator himself, is a macabre conspiracy that touched a raw nerve. A
killer doctor is one of our deepest fears; a Jewish killer doctor in
Stalinist, anti-semitic Russia would have seemed especially alarming.

But the doctors’ plot is more than a source of fearful fascination. It is,
to paraphrase Churchill on Russia itself, a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
Were some of Stalin’s lieutenants really murdered by doctors — and, if so,
were the doctors acting on Stalin’s orders? Was it part of Stalin’s plans
against his own henchmen and against Russia’s Jews? Was the plot in fact
orchestrated by Khrushchev or Beria against Stalin himself, and did they
murder Stalin before he used the doctors’ plot to kill them? The
distinguished authors of this book — Vladimir Naumov, a specialist on
Stalin’s anti-Jewish plots, and Jonathan Brent, the publisher behind
outstanding books on Bolshevism’s newly opened archives — have had access
to hitherto unseen documents that confirm that it was Stalin himself who
was the plot’s puppet-master. 

The story begins with the death of Stalin’s ailing, out-of-favour, heir
apparent, Zhdanov. Were his doctors ordered to murder him by Stalin? It has
been known for some time that Kremlin doctors misdiagnosed Zhdanov,
ignoring a junior colleague, Dr Timashuk (who diagnosed a heart attack),
and letting him exercise. The authors have had access to the doctors’
investigation of Zhdanov’s death, which led to Timashuk’s dismissal.
Timashuk then denounced the Kremlin doctors to Stalin and the authors have
found definite evidence that Stalin knew of this but did not react. Naumov
and Brent hold, indeed, that Stalin encouraged Zhdanov’s mistreatment,
although this is their least convincing argument. It is more likely that
Stalin simply left Zhdanov’s treatment to the most eminent doctors (who
were, like so many Soviet officials, incompetent) and that Zhdanov died

Meanwhile, distrusting the doctors, Stalin filed away the information for
later use in his anti- semitic designs. The authors explain that his
anti-semitism was a political mechanism aimed, via Israel, at Russia’s
greatest enemy, America. As always in Bolshevik demonology, the enemy
outside was reflected by an enemy inside — the Jews. 

Three years after Zhdanov’s death, Stalin finally made his move. Acting on
the suspicions surrounding Zhdanov’s demise, he sacked Abakumov, the chief
of the MGB (the ministry of state security) and replaced him with a drab
party official, Ignatiev, and a deputy, Ryumin, whom he nicknamed “the
Pygmy”. Exploding into terrifying rages, Stalin drove Ignatiev and Ryumin
to arrest the Kremlin doctors and torture them until they confessed to
killing Zhdanov and planning to murder Stalin as part of a Zionist-American
cabal. “Beat them, beat them, beat them with death blows,” he is said to
have railed. He even had his own personal physician arrested. 

The book’s outstanding achievement is to show how Stalin planned to enmesh
the “killer doctors” with Abakumov, the fallen MGB boss; with the victims
of a huge leadership purge, the Leningrad Case of 1949; and with a planned
attack on Politburo veterans such as Molotov, who, because he was married
to a Jewess, was especially vulnerable.When he was ready, Stalin sacked
Ryumin, berated Ignatiev so viciously that he had a heart attack and then,
in December 1952, unveiled the doctors’ plot to his henchmen. He told them
that all Russian Jews were potential American agents; then, in early 1953,
he launched an anti-semitic media campaign. Was Stalin planning a mass
deportation of Jews? The authors have found a memo outlining the creation
of new camps that might have been for Jews. 

It was then that Stalin was felled by the stroke that killed him on March
5. Was he murdered? There is no proof, though the authors suggest that
warfarin, secreted in his wine by Beria, could have induced the stroke.
Equally, he had had minor strokes before and suffered from acute
arteriosclerosis. The authors offer one last tantalising titbit: on the day
he died, Stalin suffered a stomach haemorrhage, details of which were
excised from his medical record. Was this the result of poison or the
collapse of a sick old man? Khrushchev and Beria knew more than they let on. 

This complicated, scholarly and fascinating book, the best so far on the
doctors’ plot, casts a beam of light on to this world of mirrors and
shadows, but it does not illuminate it completely. Stalin’s rule remains
tangled and unfathomable: the book may be a treasure trove for specialists,
but for general readers it could seem impenetrable. However, the authors
really understand the Stalinist mindset: in particular, they catch the
degenerate sleaziness of the whole Stalinist project, summed up by Stalin’s
instructions to Ignatiev to torture the doctors, and his chilling comment
that then “you and I will decide what is true and what isn’t”. 

Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar will be
published this summer. Stalin’s Last Crime is available at the Books Direct
price of £16 plus £1.95 p&p on 0870 165 8585

Los Angeles Times
April 27, 2003
book review
Dark side of the moon 
By Lesley Chamberlain 

Gulag, A History. Anne Applebaum, Doubleday: 680 pp., $35
There can hardly be a greater task in 20th century world history than to
understand the Holocaust and the Gulag. Why did these related extermination
projects happen, and how did similar phenomena occur in other parts of
communist Europe in the early 1950s and in Cambodia in the 1970s? We need
to realize how the shock of the inhuman has probably had a more detrimental
effect on Western culture and thought than any of the more common accounts
of postmodernism. At the same time, if we are to resist using the word
"evil" carelessly and want to preserve what remains of a good modernity, we
must differentiate between the Nazi horror and what happened to Russia
under Joseph Stalin. To understand the lower depths of the Russian
experience is partly to understand the power and attraction of communism in
that country over 75 years. Every culture has its own ideals and its own
way with depravity.

Anne Applebaum has spent the last several years researching and writing
this first comprehensive history. "Gulag: A History" is a model of patient,
readable scholarship. Lucid, painstakingly detailed, never sensational, it
should have a place on every educated reader's shelves.

The gulag, named by Nobel Prize-winning author and dissident Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, was the vast network of labor camps ranged across the
bleakest parts of the Soviet Union. Although they functioned in one form or
another roughly from the end of V.I. Lenin's end until the beginning of
Mikhail Gorbachev's, Stalin's name will forever be attached to the lethal
years 1929 to 1953. During 1937 to 1938 and 1942 to 1943, the time of
Stalin's ideological purges and Russia's worst war years, the political
police recorded nearly 1,800,000 camp inmates, and these figures still
don't reflect the huge turnover of prisoners. In the year of Stalin's
death, 1953, the camps were at their largest and most terrible, with
thousands of political deportees from Estonia, Poland, Czechoslovakia and
other communist satellites swelling their numbers.

Many memoirs tell the stories of Stalin's arbitrary victims, people in the
wrong country at the wrong time. Often, the foreign victims were people who
had traveled to Russia to help realize the communist political ideal they
cherished. Red Army officers who had been German prisoners of war were
treated with gross injustice in the postwar camps, as, inevitably, were
Russians who had fought with Adolf Hitler against Stalin. By the 1970s, the
number of political prisoners had dwindled to about 20,000. But the gulag
lasted right up to the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 and went on being
relatively unknown, and unprotested, in the West. (In the winter of 1979,
when U.S.-Soviet relations were at a nadir and I was a foreign
correspondent in Moscow, what bothered visiting American congressmen was
not the gulag but the issue of Jewish refuseniks' not getting exit visas to
Israel. Applebaum, an American journalist and scholar, has explicitly
written her history to overcome that ignorance.

It is not the case, as those who see communism as the equivalent of or
worse than Nazism have argued, that Leonid Brezhnev's Russia was Stalinist.
Under communism, people slept more easily in their beds and led happier
lives. Nevertheless, as Russia came under intense pressure from the West to
live up to its human rights agreements, political prisoners were still
tortured. Poet Joseph Brodsky, who later won the Nobel Prize for
literature, lived to deliver his testimony. Dissident Anatoly Marchenko did
not. Three years after Gorbachev's general pardon for all political
prisoners in 1986, an event that received surprisingly little attention in
the foreign press, the KGB sent 2,000 people to psychiatric hospitals
(psykhushki). Political arrests still happened in 1989. Then, finally,
Russia became a free country. Since then a minority of historians and
interested individuals have been combing the archives, trying to recover
the past and creating the opportunity to mourn. The Russians evidently have
difficulty coming to terms with the past. This disappoints Applebaum, but
we should remember that the Germans spent 50 years mastering their own dark
history. Germany was pointed in the right direction by its
occupier-liberators, but the Russians have liberated themselves. So perhaps
we should be patient.

Because of the pervasive ignorance of the gulag, the positions of Europe
and America in the Cold War need reexamining. America's under-awareness of
the gulag had to do with geographical distance but also with the reduction
of the Soviet phenomenon to an unqualified political evil, which
discouraged sympathy for mass injustice. At the same time, educated
Americans imagined the fate of the Jews under Nazism so vividly that it
became part of the domestic heritage. From the mid-1970s to the present,
the Holocaust was the crime against humanity. There was no moral energy
left over for the Russian tragedy.

Ignorance in the outside world about the gulag persisted through the Cold
War despite landmark accounts by writer-victims. Solzhenitsyn's "One Day in
the Life of Ivan Denisovich" even appeared in Russia in a short period of
political opportunity in 1962, followed by his foreign-published novels
"Cancer Ward," "The First Circle" and his infinitely distressing memoir,
"The Gulag Archipelago." In "To Build a Castle -- My Life as a Dissenter"
(1978), Vladimir Bukovsky wrote of his torment at the mercy of politically
motivated psychiatrists. Varlam Shalamov's "Kolyma Tales" (1994) described
daily life in Russia's most notorious corrective hellhole inside the Arctic

Applebaum, though, is not motivated only by Western ignorance. She deplores
the fact that the crimes of Stalin should for so long have been minimized
by the left in the West. It's true that the difficulty of the elderly
Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to accept what Solzhenitsyn wrote,
after their long years of communist sympathizing, sticks in one's gullet.
For Applebaum, it is not just an American preoccupation with the Holocaust
and a readiness to dismiss Russia as the evil empire but also the ardent
desire of the intellectual left for socialism to work in Russia that have
resulted in a lasting imbalance in East-West understanding.

The first idea of the concentration camp, one learns, came to Russia from
British practice in the Boer War and from German practice in southwest
Africa. The name came from a Spanish practice of rounding up peasants to
stop local insurgencies in Cuba in 1895. In Russia, it attached itself to
the long czarist tradition of Siberian exile. Liberal-minded aristocrats,
who staged a botched insurrection in 1825, became the first famous victims
of the system (later to be followed by novelist Feodor Dostoevsky, who was
sentenced to corrective labor for socialist agitation and wrote about it in
"From the House of the Dead"). In the 19th and 20th centuries, almost as
many Siberia-bound prisoners died on the ill-supplied journey as succumbed
to prison or camp conditions. For those merely exiled, arriving in Siberia
was almost a reprieve.

Nevertheless, to understand the gulag and its czarist antecedents, one has
to grasp that this brutal way of dealing with political prisoners and
criminals had a much broader function in society than merely a penal one.
For the country at large, the system had obvious social and economic
benefits: Exiles created villages, took culture to huge empty areas that
few Russians would settle willingly and created wealth by providing labor
for expanding industries in mineral-rich areas. The British pursued such a
penal-economic policy in Australia and Tasmania in the 19th century; only
the Russians carried the practice on into the later 20th century. Today's
major industrial cities of Noril'sk, Vorkuta, Kolyma and Magadan, were
camps originally built by prisoners and run by ex-prisoners.

The gulag regimes became so cruel from about 1937 on that they were known
as meat grinders.This was the watershed, Applebaum records, "the year that
the Soviet camps ... transformed themselves from indifferently managed
prisons in which people died by accident into genuinely deadly camps where
prisoners were deliberately worked to death, or actually murdered, in far
larger number than they had been in the past." On this record of human
degradation, the gulag bears comparison with Auschwitz. What makes the
phenomenon different overall, however, is how and why it came about.

Everyone knows that Soviet economics were disastrous. But it is not widely
known that the gulag was a version of that mind-boggling economic and
organizational inefficiency, creatively accounted for by absurd inventions
of political conspiracy. The early camps in the 1920s, with their theaters,
fountains and parks, were in some ways more like collective farms than
prisons. Designed more for political re-education than for punishment, they
were meant to function as self-sufficient economic units, though they never
did. But always, as the political climate worsened, the ideological and
practical justification for the camps remained economic. The hundreds of
thousands of arrests in the 1930s were based on quotas for the expertise
required to man the growing "Camp-Industrial Complexes": so many engineers
here and lumberjacks there, doctors, metalworkers and so on.

To mobilize mass productivity, to transfer manpower from one end of the
country to another, was to build socialism and serve the motherland. The
planners saw it this way and so did the majority of the population.
Applebaum suggests that these Soviet thought processes, with the gulag at
their center, were genuine on the part of both officialdom and people and
that what went wrong -- and where evil entered -- was always in inefficient
practice. This embattled, distorted, outrageous genuineness is why in
Russia not only a shallow reluctance to confront the past but also real
moral ambivalence surrounds the gulag disaster. When Solzhenitsyn first
published "Ivan Denisovich," former inmates leaped to the camps' partial
defense. Applebaum is in a slightly difficult position with this material,
which, though it does not condone mass murder through the semi-willingness
of many Russians, makes the gulag more intelligible than the Holocaust. If
she wanted to add to that sad intelligibility, she could have said that
Russian culture, under Christian influence, attaches the highest value to
suffering as the means to the highest understanding of the human condition.
"We suffer, therefore we are," is how American scholar Daniel
Rancour-Laferriere formulated an attitude no student of Russia's fate in
the 20th century can ignore.

The true horror of the gulag lay in the way Russia's culture and
social-political organization could not constrain the growth of an inhuman
fantasy. Human prisoners were treated as units of labor. By bizarrely
misapplied logic, the camps ran into trouble with their central controllers
because they had production goals they couldn't meet because their inmates
kept falling sick and dying. The gulag phenomenon was almost literally
demented, as if Russia's brain had been invaded by a demon seed.

In a central section of her fine and judicious survey, Applebaum considers
the nature of life in the camps; the cold, the hunger, the outrageous
overcrowding and hence the continuous hunger, insanitation and sickness.
Professional criminals tyrannized over the weaker political inmates. The
prisoners, subject to the whims of guards and brigade leaders risen from
their own number, suffered further appalling physical and mental
punishments. The temptation in many men and women, not least the major
figures who survived to write their memoirs, was to collaborate to save
their lives. Bodies were broken; souls were destroyed. The most harrowing
stories, a few now embedded in Russian literature, are of prisoners who
tried to return to normal life after their release.

After World War II, the most severe conditions prevailed in so-called
special camps, newly created for those hundreds of thousands of deportees
from Eastern Europe and for the Red Army officers stranded there and
accused of treason. Occasionally Westerners also turned up in the camps,
including two American airmen who crashed over Ukraine in 1949 and were
arrested by the Red Army. Postwar camp inmates wore striped uniforms with
numbers and had bars on their windows. The specialness of these relatively
late measures suggests an eerie borrowing from the Nazis, as if the Soviets
were not to be outdone by the wartime Germans even in regimes of cruelty.
Still, and once again against the Holocaust example, the Soviet camps were
not driven by ethnic vengeance. Gulag guards did not consider themselves a
superior race to their victims. And, still using a conservative figure, at
least 2 million died in the camps from their inception to their end.

For this reviewer, the pride and self-belief that Soviet ideology
generated, the willingness to make sacrifices for the collective good, has
constantly to be kept in mind when judging the gulag. Applebaum might fear
too many potential excuses lurking in the realms of psychology and
ideology, but in fact they are lethal for the culture in which they make
the gulag intelligible: One has only to think of the traditional Russian
neglect of the individual or the Marxist ideological desire to strip men
and women of their inner, potentially private, life. The "confessions"
extracted by torture in the 1930s were designed to exterminate the inner
man. The political authorities wanted to master the spheres of motive and
of action, which they could not do except by destroying the person as such.
Without making this point, Applebaum speaks of the right of every man and
woman to lead his or her own life. Evil is not morally complex, but the
nature of the society that sustained the gulag was. The difficulty of
embracing absurdity alongside tragedy may be yet another reason why we lag
so far behind in our understanding of this terrible aspect of the 20th
century and why, happily, no Hollywood director has yet attempted the

Applebaum's "Gulag" is a work of history that does its own moral good. It
says who were the victims and what happened to them. It persists in asking
over and over why the West remains distanced from Russian history. Is it
naiveté? How did it happen that Henry Wallace, the U.S. vice president when
he visited Kolyma in May 1944, didn't know he was visiting a prison? Is it
ignorance? Applebaum suggests that for the Russians to invade Chechnya
after Stalin had inflicted mass deportations and exile on the Chechens was
as great a crime as if postwar Germany had invaded western Poland, and yet
still few of us realize the seriousness of Soviet and post-Soviet crime.

But I want to end by returning to the vexed Auschwitz comparison. The Nazi
death camps and Stalin's labor camps meted out the final solution to
unwanted masses. Both phenomena were the extreme negative outcome of a
mania in the 1930s for collective solutions to mass living and working.
Both were tragedies of humanity, and each was a tragedy of its particular
nation. There will be interpretations of both and illuminating parallels
for years to come. But in the end, their histories will be best kept
separate, for who can compare pain as the subject feels it? No historian,
no onlooker, no book reader. As a writer-prisoner told Applebaum, as he
cast a skeptical eye over the growing pile of files, statistics and books,
the only person who can know was someone who was there.

Lesley Chamberlain, who worked for Reuters in Moscow in 1978 and 1979, is
the author of several books, including "In the Communist Mirror," "Volga
Volga: A Journey Down the Great River" and "In a Place Like That." She is
working on a study of Russian philosophy, "The Good Man in Russia." 


Moscow Times
April 28, 2003
Blueprint to Liquidate UES by 2006 Approved
By Alla Startseva 
Staff Writer 

The government commission in charge of reforming the national electricity
sector has approved a long-awaited plan on how to carve up Unified Energy
Systems and sees 2006 as the year the monopoly will cease to exist.

"We approved the plan without any serious disputes and will present it [to
the Cabinet by Wednesday]," Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister
Andrei Sharonov said after the commission, headed by Deputy Prime Minister
Viktor Khristenko, met in the White House late Thursday. 

"We are oriented on 2006 as the year when all restructuring procedures will
be completed and UES liquidated," Sharonov said.

The plan sets the schedule for the legal and corporate steps needed to
overhaul the industry by spinning off UES's generation and distribution
arms, but keeping the transmission grid under state control.

The commission approved the plan in its first meeting since President
Vladimir Putin signed into law the raft of bills needed for the breakup.
However, Sharonov said that under the commission's plan another 51 bills
and documents must be passed or issued before the reform can be fully

The list includes regulations for the electricity market in the
transitional period, regulations for the wholesale market, a decree
creating wholesale generation companies, a law on heating supply and
selecting the board of directors for ATS, the wholesale market administrator.

He said the commission had considered and generally agreed with UES
management's own plans for splitting up the company, known as the "5+5"
plan, which has been criticized by minority shareholders. 

"Most of the time [we spent discussing 5+5] concerned how the two plans
correspond to each other and whether or not we needed a document that
describes the reform not only in legal terms, as the government's reform
plan is, but simply in words," he said. 

Sharonov said it was decided that either the commission or the government
should issue a document that describes the restructuring process until 2005
"in a concise form." This document, he said, should become "a bridge"
between the two plans."

"The implementation of 5+5 is impossible without the government's reform
plan, and the government's plan is not complete without corporate actions
by UES," Sharonov said.

Although the commission agrees in principle with 5+5, "there is some kind
of complication" because it is a corporate document, but it deals with
wider issues concerning the sector, he said without elaborating.

The commission is preparing its official response to 5+5, which it will
give to the government directors on the UES board ahead of the May 23
meeting during which they will vote on it.

Sharonov said that by the end of May, the commission would consider the
long-awaited decree on the exact makeup of generation companies, or gencos,
that will consist of large plants currently run by UES. 

He said the decree was submitted to the government last year and the
commission sees "no reasons to change it." 

UES's 5+5 plan will determine the sequence of creating the 10 gencos and
all the technical details, while the government will determine which assets
will belong to each genco.

After Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signs off on the commission's plan,
the first order of business will be choosing the ATS board, Sharonov said. 

"After that, the next step might be the decree on gencos."


NG Dipkuryer
No. 7
April 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
Moscow must regard critically the U.S. attempts to establish global 
superiority by force
     Right after an unexpectedly quick conclusion of the war in 
Iraq, heated discussions about whether President Putin made the 
right choice by not supporting the United States and the 
"Coalition of the willing" swept Russian political and social 
circles. Many experts insist that Moscow underestimated the 
American military potential and, on the contrary, overestimated 
the protest potential of the "third world" countries, therefore 
burying the possibility of future partnership with the 
mightiest country in the world. Alexei PUSHKOV, an author and 
the host of the analytical TV program "Postcriptum", provides a 
commentary on the Russian position and the consequences of 
Putin's choice. 
     Question: What are, in your opinion, the consequences of 
the Iraqi war for Russia? What has Moscow gained as a result of 
its stand and what it has lost?
     Answer: By not interfering in Iraqi war, Russia hasn't 
gained anything, but hasn't lost anything, either. We basically 
remained where we had stood before the start of the war. The 
Americans were not surprised by the Russian position. The 
blitz-visit of Condoleezza Rice to Moscow proved the fact that 
we hadn't lost. It clearly showed that the United States was 
not interested in acting against the will of the rest of the 
world, despite its arrogant rhetoric. On the contrary, the 
Americans are interested in maintaining normal relations with 
the world's leading countries. Therefore, they are not going to 
quarrel with Russia, unless we start opposing them on all 
     More to it, Russia has gained a little ground in 
psychological terms. Today, the attitudes against the actions 
of Bush administration are on the rise throughout the world. 
And Russia carefully positioned itself as the country that 
opposes the policy conducted by Washington administration, 
rather than the country swept by anti-Americanism. The United 
States, on the contrary, has lost its aura as the world's moral 
     Russia hasn't lost also because it didn't have anything to 
lose in its relations with the USA. Russia is the largest 
Eurasian country, which borders in one way or another with six 
key strategic regions. We often underestimate our role in 
Eurasia. And the American strength in the region, on the 
contrary, has been exaggerated. If the United States wants to 
be a world leader, let it be the leader worthy of respect, the 
center of stability, instead of the center of instability. I'm 
sure that all world countries, including Russia, would support 
the United States as the center of global stability. America 
that acts on its own, pursuing only its own interests is never 
going to be in anyone's favor.
     Question: Nevertheless, many experts claim that by 
opposing the war in Iraq Russia lost its chance to solidify the 
partner relations with the USA, which developed after the 11 
September, and also deprived itself of all possible dividends 
it could have gained had it supported the Americans, including 
the participation in the exploration of Iraqi oil fields, the 
payment of Iraqi debt, etc.
     Answer: We could have won only in two cases. First, if 
Moscow managed to prevent the start of military action in Iraq.
However, such scenario was unrealistic from the very beginning 
because Washington was not interested in disarming Iraq, but 
rather in toppling Saddam Hussein's regime. Condoleezza Rice 
and Richard Cheney had openly announced this goal back in 
August last year. Could Russia somehow win in this situation? 
It could, only on one condition - if Saddam Hussein voluntarily 
agreed to resign. It's not a coincidence that Yevgeni Primakov 
went to Baghdad and tried to convince Saddam to go. However, 
with Saddam Hussein such a possibility was basically 
     Second, if Russia attacked Iraq together with the 
Americans and the British. In that case, Russia would have been 
entitled for its share in the spoils of war - the exploration 
of the oil deposits, the contracts on rebuilding Iraqi 
infrastructure, etc.
Nevertheless, such scenario was out of the question, as well, 
for the following reasons: we haven't finished our own war in 
Chechnya; Russian army is not capable of conducting large-scale 
operations far away from the Russian territory; 80 percent of 
Russian citizens would have been against this war; and, 
finally, Saddam Hussein simply didn't pose any threat to Russia.
     No other variant could bring any gains to Russia. Passive 
support of the United States (without direct involvement in 
combat operations) wouldn't change anything. Washington would 
have simply taken it for granted. Besides, it would have been 
an outstanding victory of American diplomacy. Those 34 
countries that expressed their political support of the United 
States and Great Britain won't get anything in Iraq. Passive 
support deserves passive gratitude.
     Russia has been passively supporting the United States for 
the last 12 years - we put forward a token opposition to the 
expansion of NATO, l supported the Americans, in the long run, 
during their actions in Yugoslavia. What did we get in return?
The NATO expansion. Unlike Poland, we didn't get the Soviet 
debt written off. The Americans do whatever pleases them in 
relations with Russia. Sometimes our interests coincide, for 
instance, in case of the disarmament of North Korea. However, 
those are rare cases. In general, the USA doesn't bother to 
take our interests into account. According to the American 
logic, the United States is the only superpower, which entitles 
it to pursue only its own interests.
     Question: Russia's victory or defeat should be considered 
from a strategic viewpoint in the first place - whether Russia 
is still allowed to participate in making and adopting crucial 
decisions on the global level. The United States is undoubtedly 
the center where those decisions are made, that's why even 
before 11 September the "breakthrough to the West" devised by 
Mr. Putin had been focused on that country. Does the war in 
Iraq mark the turning point in this policy? Is it possible that 
Russia lost everything it had gained ever since the Ljubljana 
summit in the summer of 2001?
     Answer: I don't believe that Mr. Putin has drastically 
revised his policy. It was more of a sharpening of the outlines 
of his policy with regard to the changes (unfortunately very 
insignificant) that occurred during the period of closer 
partnership with the USA after 11 September. After all, Mr. 
Putin emphasized the Russian support of the United States in 
the fight against international terrorism, and not in the wars 
against sovereign states without substantial reasons. A 
preventive war against a potential threat is an arbitrary act. 
If we followed this logic, Russia would have had a legitimate 
right to wage wars on the Turkish or Georgian soil. However, 
the Americans stated from the very beginning that we didn't 
have the right to do so.
Some people in Russia think that after 11 September Mr. Putin 
offered an unconditional support to the United States in all 
its actions. It's not true, and the recent events clearly 
showed that.
     Furthermore, we haven't seen any significant dividends 
from our partnership with the USA, so far. The Americans have 
been gladly accepting the exhibits of our favorable attitude, 
but haven't made any significant steps in our direction, except 
purely symbolic ones. I'm talking about the friendly atmosphere 
during summits in Crowford and Moscow or about the so-called 
"group of twenty" with NATO. Who have ever heard about the 
"group of twenty" after it had been created? Don't even try to 
find out about it because in reality "the group of twenty" is a 
symbolic prize for the actual strategic change - the second 
wave of NATO expansion. Ever since 11 September, the United 
States hasn't made a single step that would have satisfied some 
of the Russian interests. In short, the Americans need Russia 
only when it agrees with them on all accounts. And when it 
shows its own interests or expresses its own concerns, they 
never respond in any sensible way. And Mr. Putin has finally 
realized that after more than two years of coping with such 
     He has also realized that the Russian influence on the 
Bush administration, so highly advertised recently, in reality 
is very much exaggerated. Russia doesn't have more influence on 
the USA than, let say, Germany or France. The United States 
considers itself a self-sufficient state and doesn't need 
anybody's advice.
Had Mr. Putin agreed with Washington, he wouldn't have gained 
anything on the American front, but would have certainly lost 
on any other front.
     On the other hand, Russia has no intentions to confront 
the United States on a broad front and intentionally try to 
worsen the relations with the Americans. Moreover, the 
Americans are not interested in the deterioration of the 
relations with Russia either - they need our support in 
relation to Iran, China, North Korea, and other issues. It's 
not to their advantage to lose a partner like Russia.
     Question: Since U.S. interests are always global and 
tightly intertwined with the interests of the rest of the 
world, there will be always some countries that will certainly 
agree with American actions, no matter what they may be. More 
to it, the phenomenon of the only global superpower is such 
that the only way to interfere with its decisions is by 
transforming them "from within" like Great Britain did, and not 
by trying to block them "from the outside". Is there a danger 
that by making attempts to block American decisions, which 
failed anyway, Russia might completely exclude itself from the 
process of global decision-making? 
     Answer: The concept of "influence from within" is the 
position adopted by the British, a part of the German political 
elite and a smaller fraction of the French political elite, and 
certainly by the majority of smaller European countries. 
However, not every country could act according to this concept. 
Great Britain is, indeed, capable of influencing the United 
Germany, though, has fewer chances to do so; its influence is 
mostly tactical. France has even fewer chances. In general, 
it's very hard to influence such administration as the present 
Bush administration. During the Clinton administration, there 
were more opportunities to do so because his strategy of a more 
cautious approach to building up the U.S. hegemony called for 
cooperation and coordination with other countries. Bush is 
conducting his own policy and extends the offer to join him 
only to those who fully agree with him. Clinton's option is 
certainly the best for the peaceful cause. That's why your 
argument is more justified in relation to the Clinton 
administration, but it's rather inappropriate in relation to 
the present Washington administration. Iraqi crisis clearly 
showed that the "influence from within", as a friend of the 
United States, doesn't work when it comes to dealing with 
people like Bush and Rumsfeld.
     Let's talk about isolation. What's the point for us to be 
at the same table with the USA? To be forced to always vote 
But what are we gaining from that? The right to be a voluntary 
province of the United States. So what? Do you really think 
that the Americans would offer us a new "Marshall plan" in 
return? And inundate Russia with investments? Inject our 
economy with new technologies? Push us into a post-industrial 
era? No. The Americans don't have any reason to help Russia 
become a mighty superpower, the way they did with Europe in 
order to create a counterbalance for the former Soviet Union. 
Russia is too big for the United States to treat it the same 
way it treats Luxemburg or even France.
     The major goal of the American foreign policy after the 
Cold War was formulated by Paul Wolfovitz back in 1992 - to 
prevent the rise of other great powers in Eurasia and, in this 
way, ensure the American dominance. It inevitably means that 
the Americans intend to keep Russia in a relatively weak state. 
In the long run, Russia would be able to make decisions 
together with the United States and influence those decisions 
only in one case - if it doesn't give Washington full freedom 
of actions today. The United States is the country that has 
been brought up on the cult of force. And Russia simply doesn't 
have any other choice but to try and constrain the forceful 
model of establishing the American supremacy.


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