Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

#8 - JRL 7246
No. 45, Monday, July 14, 2003
Translated by Luba Schwartzman

* ISSUE THEME: When two ruling classes – the security service and business – go up against each other, communists come to power. “This Ridiculous Junta,” by Novaya Gazeta columnist Yulia Latynina. Men in uniform appeared at Yukos, and now they’ve come to Sibneft. There are several versions for why this is happening. Version one: “This is President Putin’s decision. It will serve the election campaign, which will focus on fighting the oligarchs. It’s a highly profitable tactical decision, which will guarantee major ratings and victory in the first round. The President is not concerned with ensuing strategic problems.” Version two: “This is a minor outbreak of pre-election fever. The St. Petersburg clan of the presidential administration (Ivanov and Sechin) is unhappy with the fact that oligarchs are financing the United Russia party through Voloshin and Surkov. But the president will never allow one side to triumph over the other. The security service and business are like two wings of one airplane. Version three: “Several years ago, the security services cracked down on Potapov. They accused him of underpaying $140 million for Norilsk Nickel.” Version Four: “Maybe the security service didn’t start the process. Perhaps someone came to the ‘St. Petersburgers’ and complained about Yukos. The same Vyacheslav Kantor, for example.” All of these versions are plausible. And they have one thing in common. They assume that the security service interferes in the economy. The security service is the nation’s immunity system, the antibodies that destroy foreign matter. Enforcement agencies participate in the politics or economics of a contemporary nation only when the government is ruled by a junta. Our security services have become very much like our army, which doesn’t know how to win, only how to rob. Our pre-election campaign is a low-level civil war. But this strategy will not help the security services win the election.

* ISSUE SENSATION: “Father Filipp’s Testimony and Nightingale’s Songs,” by Novaya Gazeta columnist Anna Politkovskaya. Father Filipp, the main witness in the case demanding the extradition of special representative Aslan Maskhadov to Russia, told the London Court that he never accused Zakaev of planning his kidnapping. He thus retracted his original testimony – not through his own choice, but because the defense revealed numerous incongruities in the information he provided. Granted, Deputy General Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky took the defeat in stride, like a soldier in battle, showing no emotions. Father Filipp himself believes we will never know the real truth. On July 11th, another witness was presented to the Russian and international community as Ivan Soloviev [last name derived from “Nightingale”], the man whose fingers Zakaev shot off. In court, “Soloviev” was nervous, and spaced out. He was getting nervous because he was being accused of perjury. The judge looked at “Soloviev” with obvious horror…

* EVENT OF THE WEEK: In “Miscellaneous Expenses,” our correspondent Natalya Chernova writes about the last workday of Colonel Shcherbakov, the head of 124th laboratory for the identification of the casualties in Chechnya. The 124th Central Laboratory for Forensic Identification of the Ministry of Defense is the only institution that identifies those who die in Chechnya. It uses all of the latest technologies. In June came news that Colonel Shcherbakov, the head of 124th laboratory, is being retired. An excuse for getting rid of the inconvenient colonel has been found – his 50th birthday, which allows his superiors to order him into the reserve. Colonel Shcherbakov was quite clear about the cause for his dismissal: “Write – dismissed for his inconvenient character.” The most horrific secret of the war is its casualties. We know this in Russia. There is no need to say how many people died in the past two Chechen Wars, and Shcherbakov does not cite such statistics. “Yastrzhembsky can tell you – it’s his competence.” Shcherbakov dedicated the past ten years to making sure the names of the men who died are known.


- The President is not signing pardon petitions that are coming in from the regions. “The Clemency Process in Russia has been Halted,” a special report by Lilia Mukhamedyarova.

- State television turned the Tushino Festival tragedy into a show, writes Nadezhda Prusenkova in “Censorship Clips Wings.”

Contact Information for Novaya Gazeta
(095) 923-9485

Top   Next