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Vol 1, No. 75, Part I, 17 July 1997
Vol 1, No. 75, Part I, 17 July 1997 This is Part I of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Newsline. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine are available through RFE/RL's WWW pages: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/ Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * FIRST MEETING OF RUSSIA-NATO JOINT COUNCIL POSTPONED * NEMTSOV PROMISES TO PAY NUCLEAR INDUSTRY WORKERS * GUARANTORS OF TAJIK PEACE MEET IN DUSHANBE End Note : Patrimonialism in Post-Soviet Russia xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA FIRST MEETING OF RUSSIA-NATO JOINT COUNCIL POSTPONED. The first meeting of the Russia-NATO Joint Council, scheduled to convene at the ambassadorial level in Brussels on 17 July, has been postponed, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Belgian capital reported. The council was created under the Founding Act signed by Russia and NATO in May. According to AFP, the joint council is to have three top officials: NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, a Russian official, and a rotating member from one of the NATO countries. However, NATO officials reportedly want Solana to preside over all the council meetings, while Russian officials advocate that the chairmanship rotate among the three top members. An unnamed NATO official told RFE/RL that the meeting is likely to take place within the next few days. The first ministerial-level meeting of the Joint Council is scheduled for September in New York. NEMTSOV PROMISES TO PAY NUCLEAR INDUSTRY WORKERS. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, who is also fuel and energy minister, says the government will pay 123 billion rubles ($21 million) in wage arrears to workers at nuclear power plants this month, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 July. He also said all back wages would be paid by the end of the year. Nemtsov made the promises while meeting with protesters who picketed government headquarters. Hundreds of protesters arrived in Moscow on 16 July following a two-week march begun by workers at a plant in Desnogorsk (Smolensk Oblast), some 360 kilometers from Moscow. Demanding adequate financing to pay wages and ensure the safety and security of nuclear power stations, the protesters marched in shifts and were joined along the way by workers from several other nuclear plants. Nemtsov promised to make the safety of nuclear facilities a "top priority goal" for the government. YELTSIN SIGNS DECREES ON STREAMLINING ARMED FORCES. Following discussions on 16 July with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, President Boris Yeltsin signed several decrees on downsizing and streamlining the armed forces, Interfax reported. The total strength of the armed forces is to be cut by 500,000 to 1.2 million. The ground troops command is to be abolished; the strategic missile forces, space defense force, and anti-aircraft missile units are to be combined; and the air defense forces are to be merged with the air force, according to ITAR-TASS. The budget of the Defense Ministry's central apparatus will be cut by almost half to no more than 1 percent of the defense budget. It is unclear how these measures relate to proposals for restructuring the military that Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and Defense Council Secretary Yurii Baturin are supposed to submit to Yeltsin by 25 July. BARRACKS COLLAPSE AT MILITARY SCHOOL IN TOMSK. At least seven people were killed and 50 injured when a three-story barracks collapsed at a military school in Tomsk, Russian news agencies reported on 17 July. Some 150 people were in the building when it collapsed, and three or four are still trapped under the rubble. According to ITAR-TASS, the building was a two-story seminary before 1917. A third level was built during the 1950s. WAS SPRING MILITARY DRAFT SUCCESS OR FAILURE? Russian military officials have expressed satisfaction with this year's spring draft, claiming more than 214,000 people responded. "Rossiiskie Vesti" on 16 July reported that the ranks of Russian armed forces' non-commissioned officers and enlisted men are currently 85 percent staffed, which the newspaper said was a "record for the last five years." But "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" the same day pointed out that one-third of the conscripts arrived at induction centers underweight and that a small number of draftees have criminal records or substance-abuse problems. Draft-dodging remains a problem, with more than 31,000 conscripts not responding to the call. Some observers say it will be impossible to have an all-volunteer army by 2000 because contract soldiers earn more than three times the amount conscripts are paid. YELTSIN CALLS FOR IMPROVING TAX COLLECTION BY GETTING TOUGH ON DIRECTORS. Yeltsin announced on 16 July that tougher measures will be taken to improve tax collection from enterprises, Russian media reported. Appearing on NTV, Yeltsin said the directors of some 50 large enterprises must be summoned to cabinet meetings and told that they must pay their back taxes. If they fail to do so, he said, either they will be made to resign or their enterprises will be forced into bankruptcy. In a recent radio address, Yeltsin blamed incompetent enterprise directors for many of Russia's economic problems (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 1997). MORE PROBLEMS ABOARD "MIR." The "Mir" space station suffered another problem on 17 July, Russian media reported. Early in the morning , a power loss was caused by malfunction in the station's orientation system. The station's solar panels were unable to position themselves toward the sun and temperatures fell inside the space station. All non-essential systems have been shut down, and Reuters reports the crew is now working in darkness. There are also conflicting reports as to whether U.S. astronaut Michael Foale has been given permission by NASA to take the place of ailing "Mir" commander Vasilii Tsibliev in repair work scheduled to start on 24 July. Russian media on 16 July had reported Foale would replace Tsibliev. RUSSIA, JAPAN CONTINUE TO DISAGREE OVER TANKER ACCIDENT. Moscow and Tokyo continue to disagree over the cause of the 2 January accident in the Sea of Japan, in which the Russian tanker "Nakhodka" sank spilling oil onto the Japanese coast, according to Interfax. Russia says the sinking was caused by a collision with a submerged object, while Japan says an aging and possibly corroded section of the ship fell off during a heavy storm. The findings of the joint investigating committee will determine whether the owner of the tanker receives insurance money. Meanwhile, the Russian rescue ship "Topaz" has been impounded in the port of Pusan, South Korea. The ship was returning to Vladivostok from the Persian Gulf where it took part in towing exercises. It had docked at Pusan port to replenish food and fuel supplies when South Korean officials decided to impound the vessel for reasons not yet known. TWENTY LARGEST BANKS CONTROL MORE THAN HALF OF ASSETS IN BANKING SYSTEM. The 20 largest Russian banks control 57.8 percent of the total assets in the banking system, Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin told journalists on 15 July. The 220 largest banks control 86.5 percent of total assets. Currently there are 1,881 registered Russian banks, down from some 2,500 at the end of 1995. About half of Russian banks currently have assets of less than 1 million ECU, Dubinin said, noting that the combined assets of those banks totals just 1.7 percent of all assets in the Russian banking system. He added that after 1 January 1999, all banks with less than 1 million ECU in assets would be liquidated or reorganized--for instance, into affiliates of larger banks. COMMUNIST TO CHALLENGE ELECTION RESULT IN NIZHNII NOVGOROD. Communist State Duma deputy Gennadii Khodyrev announced on 16 July that he will contest the result of the 13 July gubernatorial election in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast, RFE/RL's correspondent in Nizhnii Novgorod reported. According to the official results, Ivan Sklyarov outpolled Khodyrev by 52 percent to 42 percent. However, Khodyrev told journalists that when he and his staff saw documents on the voting, "our hair stood on end." Among other things, he claimed that some 60,000 voters--a suspiciously large number--cast ballots before election day and that almost all of those were for Sklyarov. In addition, Khodyrev questioned official tallies showing that 43,000 votes were cast during the final hour polls were open on 13 July. Khodyrev also confirmed he will sue First Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov for remarks he made while campaigning on Sklyarov's behalf, ITAR-TASS reported. NEW MOVEMENT FOR RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN UNION FORMED. The organizing committee of the Russian-Belarusian movement Popular Unity, which advocates the full integration of Russia and Belarus, held its first meeting in Moscow on 15 July, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" and "Kommersant-Daily" reported. State Duma deputy Nikolai Gonchar was unanimously elected chairman of the movement. Representatives of Boris Fedorov's Forward, Russia! party and Aleksandr Lebed's Russian People's Republican Party, among other groups, have also joined Popular Unity. Other outspoken Russian advocates of integration with Belarus, including Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, are as yet not involved, although Communist representatives joined the movement's organizing committee. Popular Unity seeks to hold a referendum in both countries that would ask voters one question: "Do you support the unification of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation into a single union (federative) state?" TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA GUARANTORS OF TAJIK PEACE MEET IN DUSHANBE. Representatives from countries and organizations that are guarantors of the Tajik peace process met for the first time in Dushanbe on 16 July, according to RFE/RL correspondents there. They reviewed the first meeting of the Tajik Reconciliation Commission, which had taken place in Moscow earlier this month. They also agreed to meet every Tuesday or more often if necessary. The group is made up of the Russian and Kyrgyz ambassadors to Tajikistan; representatives from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; and the heads of the OSCE mission in Tajikistan. Absent were representatives from the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan who for "technical reasons" were unable to attend. Uzbekistan did not sign the April Tehran protocol, nor did it send an official to the 27 June signing of the Tajik National Peace Accord in Moscow. BREAD, TRANSPORTATION PRICES RISE IN UZBEKISTAN. The prices for bread and transportation have risen by some 40 percent, according to Interfax on 15 July. At the beginning of July, wages, pensions, and student grants were all raised. The official minimum monthly wage is now 750 som ($12) and the minimum monthly pension 1,400 som ($22). MORE HEADS ROLL IN TURKMENISTAN OVER GRAIN HARVEST. Failure to meet grain quotas has led to more dismissals in Turkmenistan, according to RFE/RL corespondents in Ashgabat. A presidential decree was issued on 16 July replacing the leaders of Mary Province, which fulfilled only 50 percent of the 1997 grain plan. Earlier this month, many officials from Akhal Province were sacked for failing to meet grain demands. Akhal and Mary produce the bulk of Turkmenistan's grain. PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER IN TURKMENISTAN... Gohar Ayub Khan was Turkmenistan from15-16 July to meet with President Saparmurat Niyazov, according to ITAR-TASS and Interfax. The two leaders discussed the situation in Afghanistan and agreed that continued U.S.-Russian dialogue was essential for securing peace in Afghanistan. They also discussed the proposed gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, saying they hope the project would be realized soon. Niyazov said his country could supply southern and southwestern Asia with "energy supplies for many years to come." Khan also sought Niyazov's help in mediating Pakistani disputes with India. ...AND IN AZERBAIJAN. Khan arrived in Baku on 16 July for a two- day official visit, ITAR-TASS and Turan reported. In a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Hasan Hasanov, and with President Heidar Aliev, Khan said his country will support Azerbaijan's position in the Karabakh conflict both at bilateral meetings and in international forums. Possible areas for expanding cooperation were discussed, including the training of Azerbaijani students and military personnel in Pakistan. Khan proposed that part of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil could be exported by the planned pipeline from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan. AZERBAIJAN RECEIVES OBSERVER STATUS IN WTO. The World Trade Organization granted Azerbaijan observer status on 16 July and will begin negotiations on granting it full membership, Western agencies reported. This process is likely to last two or three years. Also on 16 July, state economic adviser Vahid Ahundov told journalists in Baku that Azerbaijan's GDP grew by 5.2 percent during the first six months of 1997 and foreign investment by 45 percent, compared with the same period last year, according to Interfax. In 1996, Azerbaijan registered GDP growth of 1.6 percent after five consecutive years of decline. IDA APPROVES LOAN TO GEORGIA. The International Development Association (IDA) has approved a $20.9 million loan to Georgia to help decentralize government functions, according to an RFE/RL correspondent. Most of the loan will be used to improve roads, drainage, lighting, water supplies, clinics, schools, and to build revenue-generating facilities such as markets and transport facilities. The remainder will be used to speed up the decentralization process and help local governments to program, finance, and manage facilities and deliver public services. IAEA HEAD IN TBILISI. Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Hans Blix, during his official visit to Tbilisi from 15- 16 July, was scheduled to meet with President Eduard Shevardnadze and parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania, according to ITAR-TASS. The main topic of discussion was the Georgian nuclear reactor at Mtskheta. Zhvania expressed concern over the danger to Georgia in the event of an accident at Armenia's Medzamor nuclear power plant, "Rezonansi" reported on 16 July, as cited by the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy, and Development. The Medzamor plant shut down in 1989 and reopened in 1995. It is shortly to be closed for routine maintenance. Blix is scheduled to arrive in Yerevan on 17 July. END NOTE Patrimonialism in Post-Soviet Russia by Donald N. Jensen "Much of what we [in the West] took for granted in our free market system and assumed to be human nature was not nature at all but culture," Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan said at the Woodrow Wilson Award dinner in New York in June. Dismantling a centrally planned economy such as the one that existed in the former Soviet Union, he added, does not automatically establish a free market. In fact, one aspect of Russia's culture--what scholars such as Richard Pipes and Max Weber have called patrimonialism--has ensured that its post-Soviet political and economic transformation would be especially difficult. According to Pipes's definition, the sovereign of a patrimonial state views himself as both the ruler of the country and its proprietor. Political authority is seen as an extension of the rights of property ownership, with both land and people at the sovereign's disposal. Citizens are assigned duties but have no rights. By contrast, "the existence of private property as a realm over which public authority normally exercises no jurisdiction is the thing that distinguishes Western political experience from all the rest," Pipes argues. In pre-1917 Russia, the tsar "owned" the nation, its vast resources, and its citizens. The state concentrated in its hands the most profitable branches of commerce and industry and gave favored parts of the nobility economic privileges in exchange for their support. The civil service practiced a byproduct of patrimonialism whereby responsibility for administering lands and collecting taxes was handed over to civil servants, who, in exchange, were allowed to keep a portion of what they collected. This practice fostered corruption, which became part and parcel of public administration. Although some aspects of patrimonialism weakened or disappeared in late tsarist Russia, the consequences for the growth of democracy in Russia were severe: a small middle class, weak state institutions, and underdeveloped rule of law. Soviet communism was an especially virulent form of patrimonialism. Although Marxism denied the existence of private property, in practice the state and party "owned" virtually everything--publishing houses, sanatoria, public buildings, and businesses--as well as controlling state revenues. In reality, citizens' rights that existed on paper were for the state to give or take away. Today Russia has to overcome not only the burden of its Soviet past -- too often conceived of only in macroeconomic terms -- but also a patrimonial inheritance of much longer standing, which is retarding the development of a law-based state. Privatization, the infamous loans-for-shares transactions, and the state's reliance on nominally private "authorized" banks to handle large amounts of its money are just three examples of patrimonialism's continued vitality. In addition to its tendency to weaken democratic development, patrimonialism fosters a close relationship between business and politics. The government holds large chunks of stock in key industries. State efforts to regulate entrepreneurial activities are half-hearted. Patrimonialism means that political authority often depends on leaders' business contacts and leads to the dominance of clan politics, whereby politicians, businessmen, media entrepreneurs, and security forces use the political process to vie for control over the economy. Patrimonialism is also reflected in the increasing identity of Russian foreign policy with the economic interests of specific clans and lobbies. This trend was most clearly demonstrated by the appointment of tycoon Boris Berezovskii, who has extensive holdings in the oil and gas industries, to oversee implementation of the Chechnya settlement as deputy secretary of the Security Council. With the government playing such a patrimonial role in property relations, crime is all-pervasive. There is traditional "organized crime," including drug trafficking, racketeering, and prostitution. White-collar crime, such as bribery, embezzlement, and the extortion of protection money, is also widespread, reflecting the weakness of the state. Official corruption, which President Boris Yeltsin's government sometimes sponsors in the name of economic reform and revenue raising, exists in the form of insider trading, preferential treatment in the granting of licenses, and the banking of state funds in favored financial institutions. Moreover, the government routinely uses corruption charges in the struggle for political power. On a more positive note, there is unprecedented popular acceptance of civil liberties and elections as a way to legitimize political authority. Society is steadily being demilitarized and economy integrated into the international community. However, Russia's patrimonial heritage has ensured that corruption and lawlessness are not a just a passing phase but a systemic problem that is unlikely to go away anytime soon. "Corruption is an old problem of ours," Yeltsin said in a recent radio address. "Corruption is like weeds. No matter how hard you try to get rid of them, they keep reappearing." The fight against corruption is likely to be a long struggle. The author is associate director of RFE/RL's Broadcasting Division. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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