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

#4 - JRL 7254
No. 51, Thursday, July 17, 2003
Translated by Luba Schwartzman

* ISSUE THEME - Novaya Gazeta correspondent Aleksandr Losev describes the situation around Yukos in “Invitation to a Beheading for Yukos: Bogdanchikov as the Axe.” The General Prosecutor’s Office keeps discovering various infractions at Yukos – from stolen guns to surveillance equipment. Analysts propose new and new theories for the cause of the government offense against Mikhail Kodorovsky. The primary one is, of course, the oligarch’s excessive political ambition: dealings with communists and other harmful opposition elements. But in this case, the government is far from faceless. Operations against “enemies of the state” were always carried out by specific individuals or entities – Kokh fought Gusinsky, Lukoil took on TV-6, Gazprom battled Jordan. Against Khodorovsky, we have Bogdanchikov – Khodorovsky’s main rival on the oil market.

* THE POWER AND THE PEOPLE – In “Limusin.RUS!” Novaya Gazeta reporter Iskander Kuzeev considers our leaders as a driving hazard. Leonid Brezhnev was quite a modest man by modern standards – his motorcade consisted of just two or three domestic cars, which took up only the left-most lane of Kalinin or Kutuzov Avenue. Boris Yeltsin, who traded in the Moskvich and the subway for a Mercedes600, favored tennis over car racing, but nonetheless, used three lanes. His quiet protege, a fan of martial arts, seems to also be a secret admirer of chess. His cavalcade of ten armored cars takes over the entire street. Whenever he drives down that same Kutuzov Avenue or Novyi Arbat, the traffic comes to a standstill. “Does that ever happen in your country?” I asked a Dutch diplomat I know. Without saying a word he handed me a couple of photographs. One of them showed the Prime Minister getting on a bike at his suburban residence and riding it to the Hague for a Cabinet meeting. Serge Opp, the attache for police affairs at the Belgian Embassy in Moscow confirmed: “No flashing lights, no armored limousines! Only one other car accompanies the King, when he drives to the palace from his residence. And when the red light goes on, both cars stop. German Minister of Foreign Affairs Hans-Dietrich Genscher was fined for exceeding the speed limit in Bonn… The residents of the Larevo settlement once wrote an open letter to the president. “Esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovich! We beg you – order a helicopter pad to be built for you on Putin Hill – otherwise our life is going to be a total nightmare. And for bad flying weather, perhaps you could get an armored train… we will all feel better – for you and for ourselves.” The letter was published, but no reaction followed.

* EVENTS – Our musical columnist Artemy Troitsky shares his impressions of the Sayana Folklore Festival in “Sayano-Shushen Song.” The late Dmitry Pokrovsky once answered the hackneyed question – “why isn’t Russian folk music popular in the rest of the world?” – demonstrating that “Kalinka-Malinka,” “Svetit Mesyats” and other such peddler ditties are not folk songs, but rather “peasant pop-music.” Its unobtrusive nature prevents it from being appreciated abroad. But the Sayan Ring Festival, writes the author, was the most interesting, joyful and diverse folk song festival he ever attended in Russia. Three days of performances by groups from Altai, Buryatia, the Irkutsk and Kemerovo oblasts, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Tuva and Khakissia – a total of 40 ensembles: throat singers, shamans, exotic instrumentalists, Cossacks, singers of Siberian convict verses… an explosive mixture that won the hearts of jury members and listeners alike. Especially inspiring was the young age of most of the artists. All members of the two groups that shared first place – Allash and Oktai – were 20 and under. It came as no surprise that – even before the festival was over – agents from Britain, Germany and Spain were offering contracts to the home-grown stars. The Sayan Ring Folk Festival might become one of the most fascinating ethnic music festivals in the world – and offer the world something better – and more enduring – than Tatu.


- E. Ignatova and V. Stepov write about accusations of dealing in stolen goods leveled against Oleg Deripaska.

- “Dinner with an FSB Officer” by V. Izmailov, about the kidnapping of the Agence France Press correspondent.

Contact Information for Novaya Gazeta (095) 923-9485

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