Johnson's Russia List
29 April 2003
A CDI Project

  1. Interfax: Russian citizens associate May 1 with holidays - poll.
  2. Interfax: About 50% of Russians to miss May 1 public celebrations.
  3. Moscow Times: Andrei Zolotov Jr., The Waiting Game for Putin's Address.
  4. Reuters: Russia to run budget surplus, reserve fund in 2004-5.
  5. Luba Schwartzman: TV1 Review.
  6. AP: Russia May Agree to Restructure Iraq Debt.
  8. Novaya Gazeta: Boris Vishnevsky, WHO WILL BACK THE VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE 
IN THE CABINET?. That is the most interesting question now that Yabloko put 
it forth.
The implications of Yabloko's call for a Cabinet dismissal.
  10. Kyodo: Russia unlikely to ratify Kyoto Protocol this year.
  11. Interfax: Gorbachev's granddaughter to wed.
  15. Financial Times (UK): Andrew Jack, Russia looks to the West for 
executives. Expats are being imported with the aim of improving standards of 
corporate governance.
  16. Far East in 21st Century: Economic Spasm or Political Boom? 
Influence of China upon the region will still remain much stronger than 
  18. The Washington Monthly: Bruce Clark, Red Scare. Fifty years after his 
death, Stalin's crimes are still morally shocking--and politically vexing.] 


Russian citizens associate May 1 with holidays - poll

MOSCOW, April 29 (Interfax) - May 1 is associated with holidays in Russia. 
   Fifty-eight percent of recently polled respondents said that they
associate the words "May 1" with holidays (36%), with days-off or spring
holidays (8%), with festive trade union marches (8%) or with Soviet-era
holidays and the day of international solidarity of the working people (9%.) 
   These figures were announced by the Public Opinion Foundation after a
poll conducted on 1,500 respondents on April 19. 
   One-third of those polled (31%) said these words remind them of festive
Soviet-era demonstrations and street gatherings. 
   Six percent said that they make them feel nostalgic about the past, and
about their young and happy years. 
   Eleven percent of those surveyed link "May 1" with spring, the scent of
bird cherry in blossom, warm weather and sunshine, and 8% said these words
fill their hearts with joy. 
   Three percent of the respondents link them with their dachas, vegetable
gardens, spring sowing and Subbotniks. 


About 50% of Russians to miss May 1 public celebrations

MOSCOW. April 29 (Interfax) - About one-half of Russians (42%) said they
will not take part in public celebrations on Labor Day, May 1, according to
a ROMIR Monitoring poll. 
   The nationwide survey of 1,500 people showed that 27% of those polled
plan to attend these celebrations, 10% said they have other plans for the
day and 6% will not mark May 1 at all. 
   Meanwhile, two percent of respondents will take part in demonstrations
and rallies to be organized by the Communist Party, while the same number
(2%) is expected to take part in trade union- sponsored events. 


Moscow Times
April 29, 2003
The Waiting Game for Putin's Address
By Andrei Zolotov Jr. 
Staff Writer 

It is becoming a spring tradition in Moscow's political circles to watch
for the date of President Vladimir Putin's state of the nation address and
interpret any delay, or suspected delay, as a sign of confusion or
infighting within the Kremlin.

Last year, about 10 days before the address was tentatively scheduled,
Putin reprimanded the Cabinet for proposing too modest a plan of economic
growth and asked for fresh ideas, setting off a new round of speculation
that the address would be pushed back further from the already-delayed
April 18. It wasn't.

This year, the address, which reportedly had first been planned for early
April, has been postponed to mid-May.

When Boris Yeltsin was president, he established the tradition of giving
the year's most important political speech in late March.

Putin, elected president in March 2000, delivered his first address before
parliament on July 8 of that year. In 2001, it took place on April 3. But
then it started to creep backward in the political calendar.

Putin's representative to the State Duma, Alexander Kotenkov, was extra
cautious last week in correcting reports that attributed to him the promise
of a presidential address in May.

"I was misquoted," quoted Kotenkov as saying. "I said I didn't
know what was going to happen in May, but in April there will definitely be
no presidential address."

The presidential press service would give no official comment Monday on the
timing and readiness of the presidential address.

"What is there to comment about until the date is announced?" the official
who picked up the phone said. "It is planned for early May, but a concrete
date has not been fixed yet." When asked about the public holidays taking
up much of early May, she said: "There is still time left before May 15."

Political commentators said Monday the delay, which originally could be
explained by a need to rewrite the foreign policy chapter because of the
Iraq war, is now increasingly seen as a result of difficulty in defining
domestic priorities. 

Putin has an especially difficult job because it is his last state of the
nation address before the parliamentary and presidential elections, while
the government has little positive news to report.

"It is the last address before the elections and that's why it will be
crucial," said Vyacheslav Nikonov, director of the Politika think tank.

But he pointed to a lack of a coherent economic policy for the Kremlin to
offer and conflicts within the government between Prime Minister Mikhail
Kasyanov and his ministers. The outline of next year's budget is scheduled
to be considered by the Cabinet only this week.

Nikolai Petrov, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center who specializes in
domestic policy, said this year's address is special because Putin has a
responsibility to explain past policy decisions ahead of the elections.

"He is the incumbent and cannot simply scold the government and present
some grand ideas for the future," Petrov said. "He has to present the
results of his work for the past three years and outline his vision for the
next term."

That is an exceptionally difficult task given that many of the reforms
Putin had heralded in his past addresses -- such as administrative and
communal reforms -- have gotten stuck or delayed when confronted with the
bureaucracy's reluctance to reform itself, while Putin's strongest point,
of having achieved stability in the country, contradicts his goal of reform.

Last week, Izvestia ran a front-page article on the delay of the
presidential address arguing that the reforms have lost steam while Putin
is focused on maintaining stability and is reluctant to push through
unpopular measures. 

Meanwhile, the unsolved problems appear to travel from one presidential
address to the next, Izvestia quoted an unnamed top-level Kremlin official
as saying. 

The official also said that, like last year, the presidential
administration is dissatisfied with the Cabinet's proposals for the address.

"The Kremlin is facing a fantastically difficult task," Izvestia argued.
"How, relying on Putin's main postulate 'to do no harm,' should one
formulate an agenda for the next years of his rule?"

Petrov said that while formulating strategy the Kremlin will have to
justify some of its recent decisions, such as the reshuffle of the security
sector earlier this year and the re-introduction last week of the
previously abolished post of deputy prime minister in charge of the defense
industry. "It will not be easy to explain these moves as consistent
policy," he said.

Enter United Russia -- the party of power, whose leaders appear to have
begun the election campaign by criticizing the government while remaining
part of it.

"The president has a hard time formulating his policy for the elites and
even more so for the electorate," Petrov said.

Russia to run budget surplus, reserve fund in 2004-5
By Andrius Vilkancas

MOSCOW, April 29 (Reuters) - The Russian government approved fiscal
guidelines on Tuesday calling for budget surpluses over the next two years
despite planned tax cuts in 2004-2005 and the creation of a stabilisation

The plan will provide the basis for compiling Russia's 2004 draft budget,
scheduled for discussion at a cabinet meeting on June 5.

"The document was backed by all members of cabinet. All major indicators
were approved raising almost no questions," Alexei Kudrin told reporters
after the cabinet meeting.

Under the plan Russia should run a budget surplus of 95 billion roubles
($3.06 billion) or 0.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004 and
0.9 percent of GDP in 2005.

Russia's 2003 budget forecasts a budget surplus of 0.6 percent of GDP or
72.15 billion roubles, but the latest forecast provided by the finance
ministry showed the surplus could rise to 188 billion roubles this year.

"I like the fact that they are cutting taxes at the expense of the budget
surplus because I don't see why the government should run a big fiscal
surplus, when by and large foreign debt payment issues have been solved,"
said Alexei Moiseyev, an analyst at Renaissance Capital.

The government's plan also takes into account tax-cutting measures to spur
growth and narrow the gap with western economies.

Russia plans to eliminate a sales tax and reduce value added tax to 18
percent from 20 percent in 2004 to stimulate domestic demand.

It also intends to slash social security taxes paid by businesses to 26
percent from 35.6 percent in 2005 to help boost investment.

Kudrin said the government forecasts the average price for Russia's
benchmark Urals crude at $22 per barrel in 2004 and at $22.5 in 2005 but he
also said the country could keep its books balanced at $20 per barrel.

"I cited the forecast of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to the
cabinet. According to their estimates the average price for Brent crude
will be $23.5-23.9 per barrel next year which is very close to our estimate
for Urals of $22 per barrel," Kudrin said.

Kudrin said the government planned to channel any additional revenues above
an oil price of $20 per barrel into a special stabilization fund starting
next year. The fund would be used to cover revenue gaps in the event of a
plunge in crude prices.

The fund is expected to have 324.3 billion roubles by the end of 2004 and
474 billion roubles by the end of 2005 -- equal to 2.1 and 2.7 percent of
Russia's planned GDP, respectively.

Peter Westin, an economist at Aton Capital, praised Russia's goal of
keeping the budget in the black for at least another two years but said he
wanted to see whether the government would persevere with planned public
spending cuts ahead of December parliamentary polls.

"We expect further wage hikes for state sector workers and additional
handouts to the defence and security services as being among the factors
likely to push expenditure beyond the government's targets," Westin said.


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

Monday, April 28, 2003
- The Military-Political Organization of the Collective Security
Agreement was officially created at the Dushanbe suburb residence
of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov.  Russian President
Vladimir Putin declared that the “goal of the Agreement and the
Organization of the Collective Security Agreement is ensuring the
territorial integrity and sovereignty of the member nations,” which
include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Russia and
Tajikistan.  The presidents of the member nations agreed on
cooperation in the education of officers.  The Russian defense-
industrial complex will supply the nations with weapons on the
same terms offered to the Russian Armed Forces.
- The Russian Cabinet discussed the spread of the severe acute
respiratory syndrome.  Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov ordered
the ministers to work out a set of criteria that can be used to protect
the Russian population from this deadly virus.
- Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov is on a working tour
of the Volga region.  He will meet with the leaders of regional
parliaments to discuss local problems.
- A unified state registry of businesses will help fight the shadow
economy.  Information will be published on the Internet.
- Russians honored General Aleksandr Lebed on the one-year
anniversary of his death.  He was killed in a helicopter crash.  The
investigation of the incident is still underway.
- Federal Security Service officers prevented a major terrorist act
in Daghestan.  They discovered an arms cache containing several
bags of explosives in the Nozhai-Yurt region on the border with
Chechnya.  Officers believe the explosives were kept there by
Rappani Khalilov’s illegal band formation.
- An obelisk will be placed in North Ossetia to honor the 120
people who died when Glacier Kolba passed through the
Karmadon Gorge.  Victims included film star Sergei Bodrov.
- The Seventh Expedition arrived at the International Space
Station.  The crew of the Sixth expedition will return to Earth after
the celebration of cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin’s 50th birthday.  The
crew of the Seventh expedition -- Yuri Malenchenko and Edward
Lu -- will remain at the International Space Station for 185 days.
- An American spy submarine was discovered off the shore of
Kamchatka and driven out of Russian territorial waters.
- With the arrival of spring comes the threat of forest fires.  Over
300 fires have already been registered, most in the Chita and Amur
Oblasts, Buryatia and Khabarovsk Krai.  A special subdivision of
10,000 employees from the Emergencies Ministry, the Ministry of
Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Natural Resources has been
established to fight the threat of forest fires.  The subdivision has
been allotted 3,000 units of machinery, including special fire-
fighting helicopters.
- Schoolchildren in Yekaterinburg are cleaning the waterfront of
the Iset River.


Russia May Agree to Restructure Iraq Debt
April 29, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's finance minister said Tuesday that Moscow may be
willing to consider a restructuring of Iraqi debts contracted by Saddam
Hussein's regime but stressed that the government opposed a complete
write-off, Russian news agencies reported.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin emphasized that the issue of Iraq's massive
debt must be handled within the framework of the Paris Club of creditor
nations, the ITAR-Tass and Interfax news agencies reported.

Russian officials initially bristled at suggestions by U.S. Deputy Defense
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz earlier this month that Russia should simply write
off the Iraqi debt to help in the country's postwar reconstruction.
However, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was willing to consider the

The 19 members of the Paris Club are owed an estimated $26 billion by Iraq.
That amount includes only principal, not interest that has gone unpaid on
most of the debt since the 1970s. Iraq owes more than $8 billion to Russia.

The Paris Club is an informal group of official creditors whose role is to
find ways for debtor nations to make good on their payments.

``There will be big debate on the issue, and I do not rule out that a
decision will be made to reschedule part of Iraq's debt and write off
another part,'' the ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Kudrin as saying.

Paris Club creditors had preliminary talks about Iraq's debts last week at
a meeting in Paris. They agreed to a comprehensive study of the extent of
Iraq's debts to club members and ``will review this issue in the coming
months,'' the group's statement said.

Russia opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, but Moscow is being encouraged by
Washington to play a constructive role in rebuilding the country. A
flexible Russian attitude on debt repayment could be interpreted positively
by the United States.

``Iraq must be given a grace period in repaying its debt because postwar
reconstruction there is an urgent need,'' Kudrin was quoted as saying.
However, he added that Russia was against a ``complete write-off.''

Speaking last week on Russia's ORT television channel, Alexander Shokhin,
the head of the finance and credit committee of the lower house of the
Russian parliament, suggested that Iraq's debt to Russia, some of which was
for arms purchases, could be reduced by 80 percent.



MOSCOW, APRIL 29th, 2003 /from RIA Novosti correspondent Alexander Chebanu/
-- Communist leader, Gennady Zuganov, believes there is no point in raising
the issue no-confidence in the government now. 

However, the Communists intend to support the corresponding initiative
promoted by the Yabloko party, Zuganov stated at a press conference in RIA
Novosti on Tuesday. 

The Communist leader said that the current situation in the State Duma /the
Parliament's lower chamber/ accounted for uselessness of the initiative.
"There is no dialogue in the Duma, no problem can be discussed here,"
Zuganov pointed out and added that the current composition of the
Parliament represented "an obedient grey majority". 

According to Zuganov, till May 15th the Communist faction hopes to gain the
necessary votes to include the issue of no-confidence into the government
in the agenda of a State Duma plenary meeting. 

After May 9th, the Communist party representatives will meet their
colleagues from the Yabloko party to discuss the situation, Zuganov said. 

According to RIA Novosti, the Yabloko faction in the Duma intends to raise
the issue of the cabinet resignation, most likely after the May Holidays. 

The government took the Yabloko initiative calmly. The cabinet is "aware
that political parties have already commenced their pre-election struggle
and will do their best to attract votes by criticising the performance of
the executive power", Head of the governmental information department,
Alexei Gorshkov, has informed RIA Novosti. 


Novaya Gazeta
April, 2003
That is the most interesting question now that Yabloko put it forth
Author: Boris Vishnevsky
[from WPS Monitoring Agency,]


Bureau of the Federal Council of Yabloko instructed the Duma faction 
to initiate in the lower house of the parliament the constitutional 
procedure of a vote of no confidence in the government. Yabloko is 
enraged by inability of the Cabinet to address the pressing problems 
facing the country.
When the government was formed just three years ago, there were the 
widespread expectations that the new smart and energetic president 
would have a similar Cabinet, wholly different from the previous one. 
It is clear now that the government has not lived up to the 
     "Critical mass of gross mistakes has been reached," Grigori 
Yavlinsky says. "Every now and then the government does make correct 
decisions but it never tackles a single pressing issue. It has the 
parliament pass decisions that are fatal for the majority of Russians, 
the ones that will lead to appalling destabilization soon. I mean 
decisions on importation of nuclear wastes, greedy reforms in the 
energy production sphere and sphere of living and communal services 
that will facilitate tariff growth, abolition of guarantees of pay for 
budget sphere employees, etc. It ducks the bona fide military reforms 
and lobbies interests of the largest monopolies. It openly supports 
the communist election campaign. At the same time, it cannot ensure 
security of citizens or do away with crime. It pins the blame on 
contract killings on the dead or upon whoever cannot defend 
themselves. Replacement of the government means averting the 
     We will find out soon how integral are some political parties 
boldly castigating the government now. The alternative is simple 
because unlike his predecessor, President Vladimir Putin knows 
everything there is to know about the government. One: the government 
has the president's blessing. Two: the president is dissatisfied with 
the government but cannot make the government act differently. Three: 
the president is dissatisfied but does not want to act on his own 
because he fails to see public discontent with the government.
     Option three is out now. It is hard to say how possible or 
probable resignation of the government is, but if the government is 
ousted, Yabloko Deputy Chairman Sergei Mitrokhin says that the party 
"is ready to take an active part in work on the program of the future 
government and in its practical implementation."
(Translated by A. Ignatkin)


Vremya MN
April 29, 2003
The implications of Yabloko's call for a Cabinet dismissal
Author: Semyon Shatskoi
[from WPS Monitoring Agency,]

     Last Saturday, the Yabloko federal council bureau passed a 
resolution calling for a Cabinet dismissal. The demand might have left 
some room for doubt about how serious the party's intentions were - 
but all doubts must have been dispelled by Grigori Yavlinsky's Easter 
interview. Yabloko has escalated the situation, just before the May 
holidays and the subsequent presidential address to the Federal 
     The Communist Party is said to have collected 80 signatures of 
Duma members for the purpose of moving a vote of no confidence in the 
government (90 signatures are required). Now the initiative will have 
seventeen Yabloko votes. However, in his interview, Yavlinsky went 
beyond the idea of replacing Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov with 
someone else. He essentially proposed an entirely new agenda - in an 
election year.
     The April 26 resolution includes the standard list of complaints 
against the Cabinet (standard for Yabloko, that is): the inability to 
ensure security of the nation and its citizens, failure of the social 
reforms, anti-social policies, promoting the interests of major 
monopolies and oligarchs...
     What is new is that Yabloko proclaims its undisputed readiness to 
"prevent a crisis" and "play an active role in work on the program of 
the new government and its practical implementation". This is the 
first time in its history that Yavlinsky's party has been prepared to 
officially send its members into the executive branch (not counting 
some populist negotiations with Yeltsin in 1996). On the other hand, 
the Yabloko leader did not become prime minister four years ago, or 
eight years ago. Will he become prime minister now, under Putin?
     There are rumors that Yavlinsky may consent to taking the second 
most important Cabinet post - but with the power to sign operational 
orders. Our sources unanimously say that neither the newspaper article 
Yavlinsky wrote last year (titled "Demodernization", criticizing the 
government's agenda) nor the latest move for a vote of no confidence 
could have been possible without the president's direct or indirect 
approval. It is another matter entirely that Putin himself probably 
needs all this to ensure the prime minister's loyalty until after the 
parliamentary and presidential elections.
     As for the Yabloko team or the Yabloko leader entering a 
"government of the pro-Putin majority" as junior partner in the 
potential coalition, that is quite possible. The post of a deputy 
prime minister for economic reforms, wielding broad political powers, 
is a fitting price-tag for the leader of a party loyal to the Kremlin. 
Yavlinsky wouldn't even be an inconvenience for Alexei Kudrin, the 
potential candidate for prime minister from the St. Petersburg team. 
According to Vladimir Lukin of Yabloko, the Cabinet ought to be "a 
mini-parliament" if it is to be effective in dealing with the nation's 
     A Cabinet including Grigori Yavlinsky (with or without other 
Yabloko members) would become less oligarchic and clannish. Yabloko 
itself would get the status of the "second ruling party", with all the 
administrative resources that implies. The Kremlin and its United 
Russia party would benefit from the replacement of the "pipeline 
Cabinet" at a time when oil prices are about to fall. This move would 
boost the ratings of both Yabloko and United Russia.
     Will the scenario be implemented? It is hard to say at this 
point. Judging by their initial reaction, the Union of Right Forces 
and the People's Party are rather jealous of the initiative, and may 
refuse to back the Communists and Yabloko in the vote of no confidence 
motion. Fatherland - All Russia and Unity are clearly waiting for 
orders from the Kremlin... As always, it is up to Putin. It is the 
president who has to decide what the nation should witness: the status 
quo retained, and a Communist victory over United Russia in December - 
or a replacement of the Cabinet on the eve of the elections.


Russia unlikely to ratify Kyoto Protocol this year

MOSCOW, April 29 (Kyodo) - A senior Russian official on Tuesday said in an
interview with Kyodo News that Russia will not ratify the 1997 Kyoto
Protocol on global warming within this year for the pact to go into effect
at an early date.

Mukhamed Tsikanov, vice minister of the Russian Ministry of Economic
Development and Trade, the government agency in charge of evaluating the
1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, said, ''It is unlikely that Russia
will ratify the protocol within this year.''

He said an inter-ministerial panel set up to discuss climate change issues
consisting of vice ministers of related ministries has more or less
concluded that ratification is unnecessary.

Tsikanov said, ''Ratification may take place in the first half of next
year, at the earliest, but it may be delayed.''

The protocol, adopted in the former Japanese capital of Kyoto, will enter
into force 90 days after Russia's ratification under the agreed
implementation requirements for the number of countries ratifying it.

According to Tsikanov, the panel said in a report submitted to Russian
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov that the treaty would yield no economic
benefits for Russia.

The prime minister is expected to examine the report and start discussion
toward a government decision in the autumn, Tsikanov said.

The Russian assembly will start discussing the issue, possibly in December,
after the government reaches a decision, Tsikanov said, adding that the
assembly committee discussions usually take two or three months, thereby
making it highly unlikely that Russia can ratify the treaty within this year.

The treaty requires industrialized countries to slash their greenhouse-gas
emissions from 1990 levels by an average of 5.2% between 2008 and 2012.

Russia has obtained massive emission rights of global warming gases under
the treaty, as the economic turmoil that followed the collapse of the
Soviet Union suppressed the country's emission levels.

Under the treaty's emission trading system, Russia can sell its surplus
emission rights to developed countries that are unable to cut down their
emissions through their own conservation efforts.

Tsikanov told Kyodo News that although Russia has asked developed countries
including Japan to buy the emission rights, there were none that wanted to
purchase them.

Diplomatic sources earlier said the high prices Russia has set for its
emission rights have scared off potential buyers.

As the United States has opted out of the Kyoto Protocol, ratification by
Russia, the world's third biggest producer of global warming gases, is key
to bringing the treaty into force.

Gorbachev's granddaughter to wed

MOSCOW. April 29 (Interfax) - The granddaughter of former Soviet president
Mikhail Gorbachev is to get married on Wednesday, April 30. 
   Gorbachev has said he likes the choice his granddaughter, Ksenia, has
made. Gorbachev said he does not want the wedding to be too big. "It will
be a good, regular wedding, but it won't be big by Moscow standards. There
won't be a lot of people there," he said. 
   All the people attending the wedding have been assigned specific roles,
Gorbachev said. "My job will be to lead the bride and give her away," he
said, adding that it will be hard and probably make him cry. 



BERLIN, April 29, 2003. (From a RIA Novosti correspondent) -- Terrorists in
Chechnya and Al-Qaida terrorists are "very closely related", Mikhail
Margelov, Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe (PACE) and head of the Federation Council International Committee,
told RIA Novosti Tuesday. 

According to him, this is confirmed by information recently provided to
Russia by American special services and the information of the Russian
Federal Security Service. 

Margelov believes that after the peace process began to "Chechenize" after
the referendum. According to the senator, "it is crucial that the people
who came to the referendum signed a peace treaty with Russia and joined the
political process no matter how they voted." "It is crucial now that
differences between different groups of influence in Chechnya should remain
in the political sphere, be of electoral political, not military nature,"
Margelov noted. 

The head of the Russian delegation at the PACE Berlin session hopes that
the amnesty currently prepared in Chechnya will be "inclusive" and will
eventually result in "broad popular participation in the political process
in Chechnya." The Tuesday session of the PACE Political Affairs Committee
dealt with appointment of a new Chechnya rapporteur. Yesterday, Margelov
told RIA Novosti that candidatures from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and
a number of other countries were discussed in the lobby following Lord
Judd's resignation. 

Margelov stressed in connection with this that "it is evident that the
Political Affairs Committee will do its best for the new rapporteur not to
represent the Socialist Group." "This is the only thing about which we can
be sure," he said 


Izvestia (Moscow issue)
April 28, 2003
Author: Konstantin Getmansky, Vadim Rechkalov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency,]

     "The time has come to attack Russia", Number One terrorist Usama 
bin Laden wrote. American investigators found the letter when 
searching the Bosnian division of the International Fund involved in 
sponsorship of Chechen gunmen (see Izvestia issues January 5, February 
12, and March 7).
     "On the one hand, Russia exaggerates Al Qaeda's role in 
sponsorship of the Chechen rebels," said Roan Gunaratna, expert in 
modern terrorism and author of the book Inside Al Qaeda: Terrorist 
Net. "On the other hand, the authorities of Russia are correct that in 
Laden is greatly interested in this particular region."
     According to the expert, bin Laden used a Mideast bank to finance 
gunmen in Chechnya. He even initiated investigations on whether or not 
Chechen ringleaders were using the money provided for the war on the 
infidels to promote their own goals.
     Al Qaeda emissaries visited the Caucasus more than once. Russian 
secret services arrested Aiman al-Zawahiri in Dagestan in 1997, an 
Egyptian whose name was on the list of 22 terrorists the FBI was 
after. Al-Zawahiri's was the second top name on the list, right after 
bin Laden's. Al-Zawahiri is bin Laden's personal doctor and right-hand 
man. The then leader of extremist Egyptian Islamic Jihad spent six 
months in jail and was released even though his identity had not been 
established beyond doubt. Al-Zawahiri viewed Chechnya as a shelter for 
gunmen of his own organization, according to The Washington Post.
     The Americans claim that the search of the Bosnian division of 
the International Fund provided a letter where bin Laden wrote, "The 
time has come to attack Russia". Taken into custody, International 
Fund head Enaam Arnot denies any contacts with bin Laden. According to 
the FBI, however, the International Fund transacted $300,000 to 
     The connection between Al Qaeda and Chechen gunmen was proved in 
January 2002, when a Newsday journalist in Kabul obtained a tape 
showing a meeting between Khattab and bin Laden. The tape was edited 
as a commercial for Al Qaeda's terrorist school and included episodes 
of terrorist acts in Chechnya.
     According to what information this newspaper has compiled, 
terrorists in Chechnya remain successful even now precisely because of 
the so-called "Arab factor". Arab mercenaries do not comprise any 
gangs; there are really just a handful of them in Chechnya. Being a 
handful, they nevertheless perform a key mission. They provide 
finances and combat and ideological training.
     Essentially, Arab mercenaries and instructors are the only 
professionals in the modern Chechen resistance, which mostly comprises 
ill-educated Chechen youths between 14 and 25 years. Numerical 
strength of the new "army" is constantly changing.
     Former leaders - Maskhadov, Basayev, Gelayev who grew into 
eminence in the hostilities - cannot show their military talents 
nowadays and personal survival is their major task. The same goes for 
the majority of their accomplices, rank and file gunmen, whose names 
are known to Russian secret services. That is why they are forced to 
seek shelter beyond Chechnya.
     There have been no serious clashes between the federal troops and 
separatists in Chechnya for two years. The Russian military controls 
the territory to the extent to preclude appearance of large gangs 100 
- 300 gunmen strong. The gangs changed their tactic. They have 
resorted to mine warfare where youths are particularly useful.
     Separatists' goals have changed too. They used to fight for 
liberation from "occupiers" in the past. These days, they fight to 
physically exterminate the Russians a.k.a. infidels.
(Translated by A. Ignatkin)


May, 2003
Author: Lavrenty Pavlov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency,]

     Question: Leaders of political parties are elbowing one another 
in their struggle for seats on the future Duma. Voters regard all that 
with disgust. Why do you think the people are not expecting anything 
from the new election?
     Aleksei Podberezkin: Political parties lack serious ideas. 
Everybody knows already that the ability to find cheap solutions to 
vital problems is the only thing that counts. A political system is 
only effective when it offers society alternatives, answers to 
pressing issues, and methods of threat abatement.
     In our political system, nobody seems concerned over what happens 
to the country. Party programs are a mixture of intrigues, narrow 
interests, and tactical considerations.
     Question: But parties are bound to promise the sky in their 
programs, aren't they?
     Aleksei Podberezkin: What programs are you talking about? Our 
politicians are anything but statesmen. They do not know and do not 
care about the people or their interests.
     Take the left flank of the political spectrum, the CPRF. The 
upper echelon - Zyuganov and three deputy chairmen - is rotten through 
and through. They have discredited themselves and are good for 
     Senior Deputy Chairman Valentin Kuptsov handles organizational 
matters. New party organizations do not appear; communists do not have 
money for the election save for what they get from oligarchs. Even 
Kuptsov admits it. Information is leaked to the media...
     Zyuganov's other deputy, Ivan Melnikov, is responsible for 
ideology. Party newspapers have never been so boring yet.
     Ivanchenko is in charge of the regions. Regional organizations do 
not develop. It means that he should go too.
     Communist leaders have monopolized opposition and all of the 
protest electorate. They got the prerogative of sitting on the Duma 
and controlling the budget.
     The party will have dull programs unless these leaders are gone 
for good.
     Glaziev will say once again that the natural resources rent 
should be upped. This is but one means of increasing effectiveness of 
economy, one means of 150. More is needed. This is the situation on 
the left flank.
     The right flank is a bit better. They at least try to come up 
with something.
     I only hope that their Stolypin-type right liberalism will evolve 
into something positive. For the time being, the Union of Right Forces 
is a party of oligarchic structures and large capitals. I asked one of 
the liberal leaders about their goals and objectives once. "Liberty of 
human rights," he said. It cannot be the ultimate objective of a 
party! It cannot! Simply speaking, this is just the liberty to steal, 
fornicate, and booze.
     We already have more freedom in this country than citizens of any 
other country enjoy. Fortification of state institutions is under way 
in France, Great Britain, and Germany. The United States is turning 
into a police state. And our politicians demand more liberty!
     A few words on centrists now: Take United Russia. It enters the 
election campaign like a PR project. Sure, only the lazy will not win 
the election with such administrative, media, and financial resources. 
But triumph in the election does not make a party. Not in Russia. At 
first, they claim that their party should be "without ideology". They 
then began inventing the ideology in earnest.
     They took the manifesto of our Spiritual Legacy and rewrote it 
retaining the title and main postulates. Unfortunately, they changed 
word order and encountered problems with commas. These guys forget 
that intellectual capital is accumulated through backbreaking labor 
and does not originate all by itself on orders from puppet-masters.
     In short, the people are fed up with seeing the political 
establishment involved in internal petty quarrels instead of being 
busy with addressing strategic tasks.
     Question: You do not think this election maelstrom may push 
something new to the surface?
     Aleksei Podberezkin: It is unlikely. There are too few decent men 
in it.
     According to reports of American intelligence, effectiveness of 
political leadership is Russia's worst problem. The spies got it! I'm 
ashamed for our political elite. Gorbachev and his team are a typical 
example. They pronounced great ideas and made a mess of their 
implementation. Nothing has changed since their time.
     The Americans have been rearing the elite for decades. They have 
a smoothly working system and that is why they do not have in the 
corridors of power the men who should never have been allowed there. 
It is different here. All too often men "without a past" are appointed 
to head this or that sector. They are men without the necessary 
knowledge or experience.
     In Russia, slots on the Leading Politician ratings are allocated 
on orders or for a bribe. Take a look at the lists. They contain 10% 
decent and worthy persons at best. It is not enough.
     In theory, the election is a chance to promote somebody or create 
a jumping board for somebody. This is not the problem solved by 
elections in Russia.
     Only about 20 or 30 men on the Duma really understand what is 
happening in the country.
     Take communists, for example. Money or position within the party 
is their major criteria for promotion. There used to be two really 
gifted men on the Central Committee Presidium. Viktor Zorkaltsev was 
sacked. The other one, Viktor Peshkov, handed in his resignation. He 
refused to share responsibility for the kind of party management 
communists practice and go on practicing.
     When Zyuganov is asked who should be in the government, he always 
refers to Glaziev or Zhores Alferov. Sometimes, he adds Svetlana 
Savitskaya to the list. She is great - a cosmonaut and twice Hero of 
Russia - but this is not what makes a good minister. The whole world 
is shifting from the post-industrial phase of development to 
informational. And we only have old-timers! New men are needed. As 
things stand, the more we approach the informational phase of 
development, the worse managers and statesmen we have.
     Take the Union of Right Forces. It is short of personnel to. 
Nemtsov is capable in his own way, Khakamada too. Where are others?
     Or which United Russia leaders can boast of intellect or the so-
called creative capacities? They are obedient and honest the way 
Soviet citizens were. On the other hand, they have the same Soviet 
flaws and failures.
     And the people are supposed to chose from among them.
     Question: But there must be somebody who finances appearance of 
these men in the Duma?
     Aleksei Podberezkin: There are various resources here. Kuptsov 
for one failed to solve the problem of finances. It was solved for 
him. There are lots of men and financial structures that want and need 
a strong opposition to the regime.
     Question: And yet, communist leaders disassociate themselves from 
Boris Berezovsky.
     Aleksei Podberezkin: So what. Two, maximum three men in the 
Communist Party know where money comes from. Passing on suitcases with 
cash is something dangerous and criminal. Who will openly admit that 
the money is from Berezovsky? But Prokhanov did pass around envelopes 
with "awards" in his name.
     As for United Russia, there are too many eager wallets nowadays 
that bring the party much more than it can actually use. It has 
already encountered a problem. Whose money should be taken and whose 
     The right has Chubais and other oligarchs. Gaidar's young men sit 
on all federal structures. More importantly, they are in charge of 
     Nobody will have financial problems. Nobody. The size of 
available finances is the only question.
     Communists will have $50-70 million for the election. United 
Russia will get at least $500 million or may be in excess of $1 
billion. The Union of Right Forces will have $200-500 million, I 
think, and Yabloko about $100 million.
     Question: The last question. We have too many parties in Russia. 
Gorbachev, Rybkin, Seleznev, your party, etc. Why and what for?
     Aleksei Podberezkin: There is somebody in the socialist niche in 
every country. We did not have a nucleus of socialists in the past, 
but now we do. If socialists reach an agreement, they may hope for 5-
8% votes. Rybkin does not have anything. Gorbachev needed a party to 
head socialists. He does not head it but will probably join the 
alliance all the same. Seleznev has personal and financial resources 
and we do not rule out the possibility of an alliance with him. But a 
coalition is only possible around Seleznev not for him if you get the 
(Translated by A. Ignatkin)


Financial Times (UK)
April 29, 2003
Russia looks to the West for executives 
Expats are being imported with the aim of improving standards of corporate
By Andrew Jack
Multinational companies in Russia began shedding western expatriates before
the 1998 financial crisis, but now senior foreign executives are in demand
They are being hired by Russian-owned groups eager to become more open to
the outside world. The appetite for expats reflects a growing recognition
of the importance of improving Russian corporate governance. It is also
driven by the desire to present a new face to potential corporate partners
outside Russia and to the western stock exchanges on which many Russian
companies hope to raise capital.

The secretive Sual group, the world's sixth-largest aluminium group, this
year hired a foreigner, the South African Chris Norval, as chief executive
of its newly created holding company.

Yukos has an American chief financial officer (CFO), Bruce Missamore, who
is one of about 50 foreigners that the oil giant has hired in the past five
years. TNK-BP, the $7bn (€6.4bn) joint venture between Russian oil group
TNK and British counterpart BP, will be run by an American called Robert

"It's all part of the globalisation of Russia," says Mikhail Fridman, head
of the Alfa group, which has a number of foreign senior executives.

The economic downturn in most of the developed world has helped create a
glut of mid-level specialists for whom working for a Russian company has
lost the stigma it might have had a few years ago.

"It's definitely a buyers' market, and London and Wall Street are not much
fun at the moment," says Taru Oksman-Ison, director of Principal Search, a
headhunter with a number of Russian mandates. Top priority goes to Russian
"repats", many of whom were born and brought up in the former Soviet Union,
but who went to the West for education, employment and even citizenship.
Now, with Russia's rapid restructuring and strong growth rates, they have
seen the attraction of returning home.

Russian companies are also becoming more willing to consider hiring
foreigners at the most senior levels. That reflects their international
ambitions, the limited availability of local talent at the very top levels
and sometimes a desire to use outsiders one step removed from corporate
Russia's often clannish internal structures.

"It can be about public relations, but also experience, reputation and the
ability to communicate with the parts of the world where a big chunk of
wealth is owned or managed," says Maarten Pronk, who was headhunted from
the Dutch-owned Rabobank as first deputy chairman of Nikoil Bank.

The demand for foreign executives was first visible in a few companies
built from scratch with western capital, such as Jo Lunder's appointment as
head of Vimpelcom, the mobile phone operator in which Telenor of Norway had
a significant minority stake.

The trend is spreading to Russia's industrial groups. "If they want
credibility in western markets, and to cement their relationships abroad,
they are starting to look especially to hire foreign CFOs," says Mark
Jarvis, head of corporate finance at Ernst & Young.

Companies are also turning to eastern and central Europe. Alfa Bank, for
example, has just hired a Pole - who previously helped run Citibank's
operations in the country - to lead its new Express banking operations.

Steven Jennings, head of Renaissance Capital, a Moscow bank, argues that if
some of the early western expatriates had great difficulties in getting
their voice heard in Russian companies, that is now changing. "Shareholders
who want to maximise value recognise that they need to do two major things:
change the structure of the industry; and change the quality and integrity
of management."

The most fundamental implication of new hiring policies is an evolution in
Russian corporate style, with power beginning to be delegated away from the
leading shareholders. That is a break from the tight control that a handful
of owner-managers exercised in the past decade.

"A lot of these Russian owners are young and bored, and don't want to work
even eight hours a day, let alone 16," says Mr Jennings. "If they can bring
in professionals willing to kill themselves working on their behalf, they
are delighted."

Vimpelcom's Mr Lunder suggests the trend will continue: "It is difficult to
find highly qualified people. As Russian companies grow over the next five
to 10 years, they will be pragmatic in seeking the best managers."

As shareholders in their home markets become more hostile, western
executives may find Moscow increasingly appealing.

April 29, 2003
Far East in 21st Century: Economic Spasm or Political Boom? 
Influence of China upon the region will still remain much stronger than

The last year was the most contradictory for economy of Russia's Far East.
That was a period in the country when reforming of the natural monopolies
and Russia's incorporation into the WTO were the top priority issues; the
period when it became evident that the Far East has settled firmly at the
backyard of the federal economic priorities. 

It was expected that a symposium and an investment fair in the network of
the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization would be the most
important events in the Far East. The events took place in Vladivostok in
the first part of September 2002. Events of this scale were to have
increased the business activity on the whole territory of Russia's Far
East. However, the situation proved to be quite different in fact. The
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum's events drew practically no
attention of the federal authorities. 

And it is clear why: for a rather long period already the Far East has been
rated on bottom positions in majority of forecasts and ratings compiled by
governmental authorities and independent experts. We may say again and
again that the federal center doesn't understand problems and development
perspectives of the Far East. However, at the same time we must admit that
these estimates are mostly objective. 

The reason of the situation in the Far East is very simple. The Far East is
an integral part of the post-Soviet Russian Federation (with the same
ineffective management system, low labor productivity, absence of market
institutions, poor bank system, excessive political risks and fiscal system
of taxation). But the region lacks two competitive advantages: cheap
electricity and relatively inexpensive manpower. It was cheap manpower,
which is originally a strong safety factor on the price setting level, that
allowed majority of Russian companies to consolidate their positions on the
world goods markets despite all domestic risks. Electricity wasn't cheap in
the Far East, that is why right after liberalization of domestic prices
majority of local enterprises couldn't compete on the Russian and foreign
markets within the price-quality range. 

Manpower resources in the Far East are also a serious problem. If we leave
aside the patriotic statements about the Russian education system, and the
high scientific potential of Russia's Primorye and Khabarovsk regions, we
cannot but admit that price and quality of manpower in the Far East are
rather poor as compared with other regions of the country. And it is clear
why: the ruble in Primorye or in Kamchatka is not equal to the ruble in
Russia's Belgorod or Stavropolye regions. The Soviet era clearly
demonstrated that it is not the amount of money that matters, but the
number of services and goods that can be bought with this money. For this
very reason the manpower market in Russia's Far East was always in an
unfavorable situation as compared with other regions of the country.
Transport spending, low concentration of population and lack of its own
production result in inflation of prices for goods and services, which in
its turn entails automatic reduction of people's living standard. 

At that, even the lowest living wage in the Far East is much higher than
that in Russia on the whole and makes up 1,800 rubles. So, in order to get
identical manpower resources, businessmen in the Far East have to pay
higher wages to workers and bear additional expenses. If this is not done,
population may leave the region which means the industry may lose skilled
professionals first of all. 

As the past year demonstrated, businessmen cannot pay higher price for less
efficient manpower resources. Otherwise, expenses can be too high. Absence
of competitive manpower resources has become almost the main problem of the
local economy, and it may even reach the critical level within the next 2-3

The structure of the Far Eastern energy system and manpower market differ
from those of the European and Siberian parts of the Russian Federation.
This in its turn confirms another not encouraging fact: the Far East has
found itself at the backyard of the Russian economy policy which is
oriented at one objective - gradual development of deeper processing of
natural resources and substitution of raw stuff export with export of
half-finished products. 

Under the present-day conditions deeper processing of natural resources on
the territory of the Far East is unprofitable; it is inevitably connected
with increase of power consumption and labor intensiveness. Increase of
value added in addition to practically free natural resources (with the
exception of fish) entails reduction of total profitability of production.
That is why the neighborhood with China's poorest provinces, that are
unlikely to attract more foreign investments in the nearest 20 years and
will hardly be a success with development of technological production, may
become another deterrent on the way to deeper processing of natural
resources. Since recently, it has become unprofitable for Far Eastern
fishermen to make half-finished products of pollack they catch. From a
commercial point of view, it is more effective to catch fish, eviscerate
it, to cut the heads off, to freeze and then send it to China where it is
turned into products that are in demand on the world market. There fish is
frozen once again and sold. Even indirect interference of the European
Union into the process, when it prohibited import of re-frozen products to
its territory, didn't seriously change the scheme of work. 
It is evident that mass inflow of investments is the key method to speed up
economic growth in the Far East. Neither devaluation of the national
currency, nor slowdown of the inflation rate or lots of monetary methods
are suitable for the Far Eastern economy. What is more, under the
present-day conditions it would be difficult to suppose what conjuncture
changes could allow local enterprises strengthen the position on the
domestic and foreign markets. 
In fact, all investment sources can be divided into three categories.
First, own investment resources of the Far East which still exist despite
the low level of economic development. Second, resources of other regions
of the country which, as the practice shows, can move about the country
freely. And the third, foreign investments. It is no doubt that own
resources of the region are more available and the top priority
investments. They may at least slightly guarantee that a part of the gained
value added will remain on the territory of the region. That is why any
region or any country always try to realize the most promising projects
with their own efforts and resort to external sources of borrowing only as
a last resort. On the results of 2002, the aggregate profit of all
enterprises in the Far East made up about 50 billion rubles, while
investments in the basic assets made up only 90.6 billion rubles. After
deduction of the state investments in the infrastructure, social-cultural
sphere and communal and housing sector, it is clear that profit of the Far
Eastern economy is comparable with its joint investments. 

In this situation, it is at least naive to speak about attraction of
Russian and foreign investments. If resources of the territory remain
unused and they are in abundance there, any commercial effectiveness for
foreign capital is out of the question. Investors from outside always have
to suffer additional risks.  

Funds of the federal budget are a real source of outside investments in the
region. It is only government that can invest in obviously ineffective
programs and projects because it is guided with social and geopolitical
motives. The social motive of the federal government is demonstrated in the
way how it distributes transfers between the federation subjects. But now
all social preferences mean providing the regions with minimum level of
budgetary income. 

Position of the federal center is clear in this situation. The government
expects no economic growth from the Far East, that is why all efforts are
spent on maintenance of vital capacity and on retention of the population
on the region's territory. It means that it is cheaper now to give fish to
citizens of the Far East than to give them an opportunity to process it

Geopolitical factors are another problem. The neighborhood with China, that
is gaining more and more success, cannot be ignored by Moscow any longer.
This understanding of the federal center is confirmed with additional
preferences got by the Far East within the past two years: these are
preferences concerning railway transportation pricing, development programs
for the Far East and the Baikal region and so on. 

To all appearance, the policy with respect to the Far East will in the
nearest time focus on guaranteeing of minimal surviving needs. As it was
registered, the outflow of population from the Far Eastern territory in
2002 considerably reduced, the living standard drew closer to the average
Russian one. 

What is more, views of the federal authorities and local officials of the
Far East upon cooperation with China are getting more and more different.
The neighborhood with China, that allowed to considerably reduce the net
cost of life in Russia's Far East in the mid-1990s, is now treated as a
strong competitive advantage for the Amur region, Primorye and the
Khabarovsk region. China is not only a neighbor that exhausts all natural
resources and value added from the Far East, but it means also a large
domestic market and easily exported manpower resources. At the same time,
it is unlikely that deep economic integration is possible without cultural
and territorial assimilation. In any case, Chinese will not abandon the Far
East in any case, it is more important to define what position they will
have in the region's economy. After all, no matter how cooperation between
the Far East and China develops, the influence of China upon the region
will still remain much stronger than Moscow's influence during realization
of its survival strategy. 

Andrey Blinov
Far Eastern Capital newspaper

IWPR'S REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA, No. 200, April 28, 2003

Russia, China and the US are building relationships with Kyrgyzstan - but
can it survive their threefold embrace?
By Sultan Jumagulov in Bishkek
Sultan Jumagulov is a BBC stringer in Bishkek

In recent months Kyrgyzstan has seen a stream of high-level diplomatic
visits from Russian officials. The latest one - the arrival of the
director of the foreign intelligence service, Sergei Lebedov, in Bishkek
on April 15 - was particularly intriguing. The subject of his meetings
with the Kyrgyz leadership was kept secret, but it's likely that he
stressed the benefits of close security cooperation with Russia rather
than the United States or China.

Over the past year, the US military presence in Kyrgyzstan has radically
altered the international profile of this Central Asian republic, once 
the undisputed domain of Moscow. Russia is now trying to regain its former
influence in Kyrgyzstan. Add to this China's increasing interest in
securing its own interests there, and Bishkek finds itself in the unusual
position of having three major powers trying to gain influence at the 
same time.

The Americans and their coalition partners have been flying fighter jets
out of Manas airport, close Bishkek, since the beginning of 2002, as part
of their operations in Afghanistan. As well as injecting substantial sums
into the economy through the running costs of the air base, Washington 
has been giving direct assistance to the impoverished military.

IWPR was told by Bolot Januzakov, deputy head of the defence office in 
president's administration, that America has handed over 3 million US
dollars in high technology such as communications systems and night 
vision equipment.

On April 8, the Kyrgyz foreign minister, Askar Aitmatov, went out of his
way to thank Washington for helping bolster his country's national
security. And at a press conference the same day, security council
secretary Misir Ashirkulov told IWPR that "the communication equipment
given by the Americans is extremely useful for the army in guarding the
country's borders".

Although this military cooperation is new, the US has a track-record of
supporting development in Kyrgyzstan. Since the early 1990s, it has 
been a
major donor to non-government organisations and independent media, and

The American presence has not gone unnoticed by Russia. Once the
unquestioned boss in the region, Moscow was forced to accept -
grudgingly - the stationing of US forces for the duration of the Afghan
campaign. But it will get more concerned if it looks like the Americans
are planning to stay on indefinitely.

As a way of regaining its influence, Russia is in the process of setting
up its own airbase in the small town of Kant, about 20 kilometres from 
the capital. The first planes arrived there in December although a formal
agreement has not yet been signed.

The base will officially be part of a rapid deployment force for Russia
and its partners in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Some of the
jets stationed there will be ground-attack planes, and the signs are that
they are intended for use against possible insurgencies by Islamic
guerrillas. At the same time, the Russians are providing training for
Kyrgyz frontier troops.

China, too, is worried by the American presence in Kyrgyzstan, with which
it shares a 1,100 km border. It is doing what it can to strengthen its 
own position. While there are no plans for a Chinese military presence,
Beijing is likely to exert a significant role through the anti-terrorism
centre, which the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation - a regional grouping
in which it is a leading player, with Russia and four Central Asian
states - intends to open in Bishkek.

China will play an even more direct role through an aid package it signed
for the Kyrgyz military on April 1. The Chinese embassy and Bishkek
defence ministry officials declined to comment on the nature of the aid
that would be provided. During the signing ceremony, the Chinese
ambassador, Hong Jiuyin, said his country had given 10 million dollars to
the Kyrgyz defence and law-enforcement since 1991.

Reactions to all this vary from welcoming to suspicious. Some people
here - ordinary people as well as politicians - are in favour of
developing security relationships with all three superpowers. Others fear
that rivalries between Russia, the US and China could end up being played
out in Kyrgyzstan.

Karybek Baybosunov, director of the Centre for Globalisation Research,
sees little danger in the country becoming a focus for external 
"One needs to view the situation in light of the fact that the world is
rapidly changing and the internationalisation of superpower interests is
taking place everywhere," he told IWPR. "For a developing country, this
kind of approach is the best."

The chairman of parliament's international affairs committees, Alisher
Abdimomunov, is less optimistic. He told IWPR that the three countries 
are pursuing radically different goals in the region, and in future their
interests may clash in Kyrgyzstan. "Because of backstage deals made by
these nuclear giants, our territory may turn into an epicentre of tension
in the region," he said.

Alexander Kim, a commentator on political and military affairs for the
newspaper Moya Stolitsa-Novosti, thinks the three powers cannot go on
manoeuvring around each other indefinitely because of what he says is the
long-standing state of "covert confrontation" between them.

"We should now choose a partner, as neighbouring Uzbekistan has done," he
said, referring to the Uzbek government's pro-American policy.

But there are drawbacks to picking any one of the three superpowers as
sole partner. Choosing the Americans would be unacceptable to Russia or
China, and in any case no one knows how long US interest will last.

Beijing is too new a player to be a comfortable choice, and the presence
in Kyrgyzstan of thousands of ethnic Uighurs from western China creates a
potential flashpoint in the relationship.

Some of the Uighurs here are political exiles whom the Chinese government
accuses of fomenting unrest in Xinjiang province. Their activities give
China a powerful lever with which to pressure the Kyrgyz government.

Other Uighurs are itinerant traders who bring cheap goods from China to
trade in Kyrgz markets. They are seen by some here  as a fifth column
spearheading a broader Chinese economic advance. Rightly or wrongly, this
suspicion of Beijing's intentions are not uncommon among people in

Others are simply concerned that the Uighur issue might be played up by
any of the superpowers as part of a "great game". "The strong Uighur
diaspora in Kyrgyzstan... may be used by someone to destabilise the
situation in the region," Alisher Abdimomunov told IWPR.

Russia is the strongest contender to be a sole partner. It has the
benefits of proximity, cultural ties and above all a shared Soviet past.
The Kyrgyz military use Kalashnikovs and other Russian equipment. And 
with Russia offer a measure of protection against pressure exerted by
Kyrgyzstan's two neighbours, Uzbekistan and Kazakstan.

Moscow still has considerable economic clout, and can exercise great
influence through TV and radio. Most people in Kyrgyzstan watch
Russian-made TV programmes and listen to Russian radio. Within the last
month, two Moscow newspapers - Parlamentskaya Gazeta and Rossiyskaya
Gazeta - have started up locally-printed editions specially for

While Kyrgyzstan shows no sign of making a definitive choice between its
suitors, the Russians appear intent on making sure they lose no further
ground to their rivals.


The Washington Monthly
April 2003
Red Scare
Fifty years after his death, Stalin's crimes are still morally
shocking--and politically vexing. 
By Bruce Clark 
Bruce Clark is currently on a research sabbatical from The Economist, where
he has worked since 1998 as international security editor. 
by Anne Applebaum
Doubleday, $35.00 

In her new book, Anne Applebaum tells an instructive story about Vice
President Henry Wallace's first visit to the Soviet Far East in May 1944.
Determined to think the best of America's wartime ally, Wallace took an
instant liking to his Russian host, a senior secret policeman called Ivan
Nikishov. The visitor was struck by the similarities between America and
Russia as pioneering nations with vast natural resources, and he listened
sympathetically as Nikishov told him how the town of Magadan, with 40,000
residents, had sprung up over the last 12 years. What Wallace hardly seems
to have realized is that he was visiting a giant prison: Magadan was the
"capital" of an area several times the size of France, where hundreds of
thousands of people were sent to incarceration or exile. Many did not even
arrive, because the ships that ferried prisoners to Magadan were notorious
death traps. And work in the nearby Kolyma gold fields was so back-breaking
that very few survived it for more than a couple of years. The town Wallace
so admired had been built by penal labor; the singers and musicians who
performed for him were captives (albeit under strict instructions not to
reveal the fact); even the local embroidery which he politely praised was
the work of prisoners. 

What this story reminds us, of course, is that when a nation or coalition
has focused all its attention on the defeat of a single enemy, it can
easily become blinded to the faults, indeed the downright evil, of other
forces in the world--especially if those other forces happen to be helping
in the struggle against the main adversary. Winston Churchill, to his
credit, was aware of this paradox: He once declared that if Hitler had
invaded hell, Her Majesty's government would at least have sent a friendly
diplomatic note to the Prince of Darkness. And most people would agree that
when a nation is engaged in the heat of a life-and-death struggle with a
clearly defined enemy, such as Nazi Germany, it is reasonable to accept
help from almost any partner, however unsavory--as long as you do not
deceive yourself, as Wallace appears to have done, about that partner's
real nature. The wisdom of cultivating dubious allies--on the old "enemy of
my enemy" principle--is much less self-evident when the war you are
fighting is long, multi-fronted, and has an important moral and
psychological dimension as well as a military one. That description applied
to the Cold War, and it also applies to the current war against terrorism.

Since 1945, not many observers of the Soviet Union have been as naïve as
Wallace; but Anne Applebaum believes that Westerners--especially on the
political left--have never ceased to underestimate the radically evil
nature of the Soviet system, and the degree of suffering it inflicted on
its own citizens. And she is undoubtedly right to say that the dimensions
of Stalin's repression, even if we do our best to assess it honestly, are
hard to take in. For those of us who live in relative comfort and liberty,
the story of the Soviet prison camps, through which as many as 18 million
people may have passed over a period of roughly four decades, is a
bone-chilling reminder of humanity's almost infinite capacity for cruelty,
on a scale that defies belief. It is also a phenomenon in which many
observers, including some who had little excuse, consciously chose not to
believe. This was partly because the Soviet authorities, reinventing the
Tsarist tradition of Potemkin villages designed to impress the foreigner,
went to enormous lengths to hide the truth; and partly because some
observers, knowingly or unknowingly, colluded with this cover-up because it
was more comfortable to do so. And even for those who are determined to
discover the facts in all their ugliness, the truth remains elusive; good
people can differ about what exactly happened.

Stalin's Skeleton Closet

In a sense, as Applebaum suggests, this cover-up is still going on. For a
brief period at the very end of the Soviet era, a dozen years ago, Moscow's
public debates were dominated by fresh discoveries about the darkest
aspects of the Soviet era and by loud cries of "never again." For an even
briefer moment, it seemed as though these revelations had terminally
discredited both the individuals (Stalin, Beria, and the likes of Nikishov)
and the institutions (such as the Communist Party and the secret police)
which had practiced repression on such a titanic scale.

But that moment has long since passed. Russia is now ruled by a former
member of the secret police who enjoys huge popularity. After a decade in
which the country seemed, more than once, to be teetering toward chaos,
more people are willing to accept the proposition that it is worth
sacrificing human rights for the sake of order and economic progress. Nor
is Stalin himself seen as a purely villainous figure; having watched their
country lose influence on the world stage, Russians are more inclined to
voice a grudging respect for the man who, as they see it, raised that
influence to unprecedented heights. While the archives that tell the story
of Stalin's repression have not exactly snapped shut, there is less
enthusiasm for opening them to all comers. The secret-police force--under
its latest acronym, FSB--has regained enough institutional self-confidence
to defend its record. The handful of Russians who campaign, in a
disinterested way, for the observance of human rights and the discovery of
historical facts, are once again a beleaguered minority, albeit not an
actively persecuted one.

Nor is there any strong impulse in the West to prize new skeletons out of
Russia's cupboard. In the current Western mood, almost any ally's blemishes
can be overlooked as long as it delivers a modicum of co-operation in the
war against terrorism. Encouraging Russia to look more critically at its
own past is the last thing any Western government cares about; and if such
pressure were applied, the reaction in Russia would be impatient, to put it
mildly. While most people, both in Russia and the West, would accept that
the Soviets imposed a regime of horrible repression under a thin,
pseudo-judicial cover, there is little desire to know more about it.

Applebaum's purpose is to buck that trend. Taking advantage of the fact
that some archives are now available, and that some former inmates remain
alive and articulate, she has set out to write a comprehensive history of
the Soviet penal camps for the general reader. She is not a full-time
academic like Robert Conquest, who has devoted an entire career to
investigating and chronicling Stalin's rule and can therefore integrate the
gory details of his penal system into a broader theory about his regime.
Nor, of course, does she have the literary aspirations of an Alexander
Solzhenitsyn or Evgeniya Ginzburg. Her writing is often powerful and
incisive, but it achieves this effect through simplicity and restraint
rather than stylistic flourish.

Applebaum's voice is that of a serious author and journalist who has
interviewed 30 camp survivors, read scores of camp memoirs, traveled to
Russia's far north, and drawn on government archives in Moscow and half a
dozen other places. She chronicles the camps' evolution from the mid-1920s,
when dissident socialists, intellectuals, monarchists, priests, and common
criminals were shipped to the Arctic, to the early 1930s, when a vast
network of penal colonies harnessed the labor of dispossessed peasants to
feed Russia's crash industrialization program. By the late '30s, as the
revolution gobbled more and more of its own children, the camps were
filling up with loyal communists. By this stage, the authorities had ceased
to pretend that the camps were a successful experiment in rehabilitation,
or a monument to the dignity of labor. The crueler the camps became, the
more fervently they were covered up.

Between 1941 and 1942, Applebaum writes, a quarter of the camps' inmates
died of starvation. They shared this fate, of course, with many of their
"free" compatriots, such as the besieged residents of Leningrad. The camp
population rose again after World War II, as the regime turned xenophobic
and anti-Semitic. But the new captives included former partisan fighters
whose will was not easily broken; among the book's most powerful passages
are the descriptions of the rebellions which prisoners mounted, both before
and after Stalin's death in 1953. From the mid-1950s, when hundreds of
thousands of prisoners were released, penal labor ceased to play a
significant role in the economy. But political and religious dissenters
continued to be sent to camp until the last few years of the Soviet regime.
In 27 chapters with 2,157 footnotes, Applebaum dissects this epic of
cruelty and suffering, chronologically and thematically. She recounts the
diet, kept at the bare minimum to extract useful labor out of the
prisoners; the sexual abuse; the egregious horror of transport to the camps
by train or ship; the shady deals between prisoner and warder; and the
shifting relations between political prisoners and urkas, or common criminals.

There is much to be said for her clinical approach to a subject on which
any superlative of horror sounds cheap. But in a paradoxical way, the
reader of this admirable and courageous book is left wanting more. Even if
we cannot know, in the final analysis, why Stalin's terror was imposed, we
are curious to know (at least at a subjective, psychological level) how it
was imposed. How did the individuals who masterminded and ran the camp
system rationalize their own behavior? How was it that so many of their
victims retained their faith in communism, insisting that their own
incarceration was merely a deviation from a well-founded political project?
And among those survivors who took a more realistic view of their
persecutors, what feelings persist? Applebaum introduces us briefly to a
hospitable Muscovite grandmother who manages a flash of humor as she
describes the clothes she wore in camp as a young woman. The reader wants
to hear more from this wise lady--and from other camp survivors (including
those who, amazingly enough, still defend Stalin) with whom we can engage
as flesh-and-blood human beings. Strikingly absent from Applebaum's
bibliography are the stories, which are readily available, of prisoners
(including priests, mullahs, and Buddhist monks) who were incarcerated for
their religious beliefs. To what extent were prisoners sustained by these
beliefs and enabled to make sense of their suffering? These are questions
which other writers, building on Applebaum's foundations, will want to

Looking Like Your Dog

Most of the time, she allows the facts to speak for themselves; her
approach is not a didactic one, and that is one of the book's merits. But
where her book does become didactic, especially at the beginning and the
end, she will lose the sympathy of readers who in other respects warmly
admire her. Sometimes legitimately, Applebaum attacks the failure of
Westerners to grasp the real nature of Soviet communism, and to understand
how single-mindedly that system had to be confronted. She is shocked by the
fact that tourists in ex-communist countries snap up Soviet paraphernalia
as mementos, although they would never buy Nazi trinkets. She is struck by
the fact that a Western intellectual can admit to a communist or even
Stalinist past without embarrassment, whereas to have flirted with Nazism
is considered a sin beyond forgiveness. She also denounces Cold War
revisionism--the idea that the Western side might have been at fault in the
Soviet-American contest--whether it comes from iconoclasts like Gore Vidal
or more unlikely quarters, such as Britain's Spectator magazine.

She is right to say that some Westerners underestimate the evil perpetrated
under the Soviet flag. But surely, it is going too far to regard Western
tactics during the Cold War as beyond reproach. It is true, of course, that
any moral assessment of that period must take full account of the horrific
nature of the Soviet penal system, and of the fact that whenever it had the
chance, the Soviet regime imposed similar horrors on other countries.
Western leaders would stand condemned by history if they had not worked
tirelessly to avoid the imposition of that system on their own
countries--and in the long run, to roll back repression inside the Soviet

But the fact that one party to a con-flict practiced terrible wickedness
does not imply that the other behaved with disinterested perfection. With
full knowledge of the Soviet Union's crimes against its own subjects, it is
still possible to argue that at certain times, America and its allies
stoked the fires of superpower competition and put humanity's survival at
risk. The expression "military-industrial complex"--meaning an alliance of
interests between the Pentagon and the arms industry which had an agenda of
its own--was not coined by some soft-minded apologist for communism; it was
coined by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican and supreme
commander of Allied forces during World War II. As Applebaum herself notes,
Stalin's jailers--especially after 1945--shored up their own authority at
home by citing the imperative to achieve and maintain parity with the
country that had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This does not necessarily
imply that the Western side in the Cold War should have slackened its own
efforts in the naïve hope that the Soviet regime would have softened as a
result. But it is not being treacherous or soft-minded to study the
Soviet-American contest as a self-compounding process in which one side's
fearful and suspicious behavior fueled the other's.

Nor was the practice of terrible forms of repression, including the
widespread use of incarceration, torture, and extrajudicial killing, any
monopoly of the communist side in the Cold War. In countries like Chile,
Iran, Indonesia, and Greece, precisely those crimes were perpetrated in the
name of the "free world"--and they were justified, or actively abetted, by
America's keenest Cold Warriors on grounds that "our sons of bitches"
should be forgiven almost anything as long they fought the good fight
against the Reds.

This does not mean that communism and liberal capitalism are morally
equivalent routes to modernity and industrialization. At least in its purer
form, the Cold War theory of convergence, which held that American and
Soviet societies were becoming almost identical--was utter nonsense. But in
any sustained conflict, whether personal or geopolitical, there is an
ever-present possibility that the two sides will imitate certain aspects of
each other's behavior. It is not only our spouses, or our pets that we grow
to resemble, but also, to some extent, our enemies. To put it another way,
our adversaries--ideological and geopolitical--do not merely threaten us by
preparing to attack and defeat us; in a more subtle way, they also threaten
us by making us more like them. It would be absurd to suggest that America
itself had any equivalent of the Soviet gulag, but Cold War logic did make
the United States more tolerant of its allies' repressive behavior.
Analysts of the Cold War should be alive to these realities, even as they
contemplate the staggering cruelty, and mendacity, of Stalin's Russia. 

The force of this point goes far beyond historical analysis or
philosophical speculation. It is immediately relevant for today's warriors
in the battle against terrorism. If there is any part of the world where
the apparatus and culture of Soviet repression--nighttime disappearances,
cynical judges, isolation cells, physical and psychological
torture--remains alive and well, it is on the territory of former Soviet
republics, which have been closely allied with the United States in its war
against the Taliban and al Qaeda. The ex-communist despots who rule these
places have taken heart from the post-September 11 climate in world
affairs. Their calculation is that as long as they provide the United
States with military bases and air corridors, they will have a free hand to
lock up their opponents and suppress freedom of speech. Should American
policy vindicate this calculation? For the politicians, diplomats, and
generals in the United States who are pondering this question, some sober
reflection on the horrors of the Soviet gulag, skillfully and diligently
documented in this book, would be time well spent. But it would be a pity
if the only conclusion they draw is that America's enemies, past and
present, are guilty of practicing terrible repression while simultaneously
telling brazen lies. Unfortunately, America's friends commit those sins, too. 


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