Izvestia, May 14, 1999, p.2

Due to NATO’s continuing military operation in the Balkans, Russian contacts with NATO members in the military sphere are diminishing rapidly. However, a rare idyll can be observed in the relations between Moscow and countries which are not NATO members.

This weekend, Russia is to land a large marine landing party in Sweden. The Bespokoyny destroyer, under the colors of Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic Navy Vladimir Yegorov, will visit Stockholm. Simultaneously, two small missile boats, Liven and Passat, are due to arrive in the Karlskruna base of the Swedish Navy. Both sides stress the significance of this first visit in 20 years of a Russian squadron of battle ships to Sweden. Not only contacts between the two countries’ military personnel, but also meetings between Yegorov and members of the royal family and Swedish state and political activists are envisaged in the program. However, as the Russian Defense Ministry stated to “Izvestia”, Swedish Defense Minister Byorn von Syudova, who is to visit Russia on June 20-23, is to be met even more solemnly.

This is especially meaningful given the complete cessation of contacts in the military sphere with neighboring Norway, which is a NATO member.

As Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev stated, Russia “sees no possibility” either of accepting a high-ranking Norwegian military delegation or arranging a return visit of the commanders-in-chief of the Northern Fleet and Leningrad Military District, although both activities had been previously mentioned among possibilities for military-political cooperation between Norway and Russia.

Prospects for military-technical cooperation are seen by Moscow in the same way. In truth, so far Russia has strictly fulfilled all of its contracts for the supply of armament which were concluded before the bomb strikes on Yugoslavia started, including those with NATO countries. However, the Russian authorities have already warned the West about the possibility of revising this position. Simultaneously, negotiations about exporting up-to-date weapons to countries which are not members of NATO are being activated. The current situation with the negotiations to export “special equipment” to Finland are demonstrative in this respect. Experts from Rosvooruzhenie have already prepared a new package of proposals to participate in the tender for supplying a batch of military-transport helicopters. Now Finland will probably be induced to reject the idea of re-arming jointly with Sweden, Denmark, and Norway “with a unique Scandinavian helicopter.” This would decrease the total number of helicopters bought but remove any doubts on the part of Moscow regarding the participation of NATO members (Denmark and Norway) in the project. Since Helsinki is a traditional importer of Russian weapons, Russia is announcing its readiness not only to sell a batch of the most up-to-date vehicles from the leading Kamov and Mil helicopter constructing firms, but also to place orders for producing a number of components and parts of the helicopter with Finnish industrial enterprises.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 14, 1999, p.2

While talking to Presidential Assistant Sergei Prikhodko, Jacques Chirac, who arrived yesterday in the Kremlin, showed that he shares Yeltsin’s passion for building a multi-polar world. According to Prikhodko, Chirac agreed with Yeltsin to develop this multi-polarity.

It means that Moscow and Paris will henceforth be in opposition to the omnipotent Washington, which declares at any suitable moment its special position. However, this will not prevent Chirac from supporting the raids of NATO fighters in the sky above the Balkans.

Officially, Primakov’s dismissal was not supposed to be discussed, but, out of habit, Western leaders always question Yeltsin with curiosity about internal changes in the government and the course of the reforms. France and Russia are closest friends and associates and respect each other. The French president flew to Moscow yesterday to talk about Kosovo. On the eve of his departure, the MK correspondent called up the Ulysses Palace with the question:

Will the recent shocks prevent the dialog from staying on course?

A representative of the French president answered rather optimistically:

Nothing can hinder the dialog between the two presidents, and France is greatly pleased with the agreements which were concluded at the G-8 summit in Bonn, and Primakov’s dismissal does not influence anything.

Nevertheless, French Foreign Minister Juber Vedrin, having heard the news about Primakov’s dismissal, said not without regret: “I worked a lot with Primakov when he was foreign minister. Yeltsin called on him to take the post of premier to stabilize the situation in the country. Primakov worked with all the energy he had…”

However strange it may seem, the French continue to watch the Russian political crises attentively. French commentators assume that this “crisis majeur” is happening at the worst moment for Russia, now that it is dealing with Kosovo and its attempts to disrupt the international scene, the war between Yeltsin and the Duma, the struggle for survival of the population, the fight against corruption, the upcoming elections, the general crisis, etc. And, most importantly, the IMF had just promised to grant money… The dismissal of Primakov and the Communist Maslyukov – the main interlocutor of the IMF – may freeze the new portion of aid for Russia, predicts the newspaper “Figaro”.

As a commentator of the French state TV Channel said, “Never has Russia been so important in the peacekeeping process, and never has it been so weak. Primakov’s dismissal is worthy of regrets even more since the Russian president is threatening to quit the Yugoslavian negotiations if his terms are not accepted.” As “Figaro” spitefully summarizes, “But one should never look for a single logical connection between the president’s outbursts when he is trying to retain the grits of lost power in his trembling hands.”


Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 14, 1999, p.2

Yury Luzhkov was the one who supported Primakov after his dismissal. On Wednesday, rumors that the mayor had asked Primakov to head the electoral list of Fatherland in the Duma elections were circulating. However, Luzhkov refuted the rumors and said he would be glad if Primakov joined the movement, but that there was no such a discussion.

However, the idea that Primakov may head Fatherland’s list of candidates appeared long ago. Luzhkov practically formulated it a month ago, on April 22, the day of the constitutional meeting of the All Russia bloc of regional leaders. But at that time such hints were perceived more as an expression of sympathies for Primakov and nothing more.

The myth that Fatherland might unite with the Communists has utterly evaporated. After Luzhkov’s meeting with Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, it became clear that Luzhkov will more likely unite with Yabloko than with the reds.

Luzhkov and Yavlinsky agreed on a coordinated nomination of candidates for the Duma in single-mandate districts. That was done to create a screen for the Communists and “criminal elements” in these districts. Yavlinsky stated that Yabloko is ready to cooperate with all movements of non-Communist, non-extremist, and non-Fascistic orientations. According to Yavlinsky, Yabloko may have the same rating as Fatherland, which shows that they have equal possibilities for the coordinated nomination of candidates.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 14, 1999, p.2

The wind in Russia has changed. “Fugitives” are beginning to return from far-off countries. Following Berezovsky and Smolensky, Director of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant Anatoly Bykov is also going to return.

The director of the plant, like the former CIS executive secretary, has a weak spine. He supposedly was being treated for radiculitis in Austria. The course of treatment will be over within two or three weeks, after which the director intends to return to the plant. Incidentally, Bykov has not yet been discharged.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta, May 14, 1999, p.3

An acute political crisis has erupted in Russia. In this critical situation, all branches of government are capable of demonstrating political irresponsibility, and the activities of many federal power bodies is almost paralyzed. The burden of the political struggle in the supreme bodies of federal power is being placed on the people, which will lower the people’s standard of living and negatively influence the international authority of the country.

According to Our Home is Russia (NDR), the Duma also bears its share of responsibility for the recent crisis, since recently it has been dealing practically only with political struggle and not carrying out its main task – to establish a legal basis for the development of civil society.

As the presidium of NDR noted, it did not manage to unite the constrictive powers of the deputies’ corps to oppose to extremism effectively. While implementing the decisions of the sixth NDR Congress, the presidium is still supporting the reformation of state power in Russia and thinks that this reform should be started with the upcoming Duma elections. In this connection the presidium has announced the necessity of stopping the phenomenon of proxies in the Duma, which will save money for paying wages and pensions. The presidium thinks that the upcoming elections should be conducted in single-mandate districts, and that candidates should be nominated from political parties, movements, and electoral blocs.

The NDR presidium appealed to Russian citizens to stay calm during this complicated period and not to allow aggravation of political tension.


Russian Television, Vesti, May 13, 1999, 14:00

On May 13, deputies discussed two topical issues in the corridors of the Russian Duma: who will enter the new government, and what the results of the impeachment vote will be. Gennady Zyuganov produced the most unexpected forecast of all – not unexpected because he predicted over 300 votes in favor of impeaching President Yeltsin, but because he believes that the voting may take place as early as May 14. Zyuganov said, “I believe that we will collect enough votes for the impeachment, and do not discount the possibility that the voting may take place on May 14. Yesterday I met with leaders of Duma factions – even those who previously had doubts and hesitated now state that Yeltsin should be dismissed. There will be such people even in the LDPR faction, whose leader, Zhirinovsky, has until recently unconditionally supported Yeltsin.”

Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of Yabloko faction, said, “The unstable situation we are currently observing is caused by the governmental crisis connected with Primakov’s dismissal. I do not think that this was done in a timely manner or for good reasons, but now that the president made this decision we have one more proof that we will only be able to change the situation under a different president. We will support the accusation as regards the Chechen war. Some of our deputies will vote in favor of the accusation connected with the 1993 events. But we will vote against the accusations connected with many other political attacks on the president. We see this as a procedure to demonstrate that, sooner or later, the authorities must account for their actions.”


Russian Public Television, May 13, 1999, 15:00

ITAR-TASS reports, citing one of Yury Maslyukov’s aides, that, on the morning of May 13, the decision was made at a meeting of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPRF that the party’s Duma faction would reject any candidate for premier nominated by the president three times. According to the press agency’s source, this position is explained by the fact that the CPRF leaders have decided to participate in pre-term parliamentary elections. However, CPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov disavowed the report, saying, “There has been no meeting of the Presidium, neither an open one nor a closed one. We have not yet considered Stepashin’s candidacy.”