RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly – 07/22/2004

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RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly
Vol. 4, No. 28, 22 July 2004

A Weekly Review of News and Analysis of Russian Domestic Politics




By Julie A. Corwin

Russia and Ukraine have generally maintained a healthy
cross-border trade, but in the run-up to the 31 October Ukrainian
presidential elections, some Ukrainians are questioning whether they
really want Russia’s latest export: political consultants. On 19
July, youth activists rallied in Kyiv outside a building where
Effective Politics Foundation head Gleb Pavlovskii was holding a
press conference, TV 5 in Kyiv reported. A week earlier, almost two
dozen activists from the Youth — The Hope of Ukraine organization
picketed the Russian Embassy in Kyiv to demand that Moscow not
interfere in the presidential race, bearing signs saying “Russian
Political Consultants: Suitcase, Train Station, Russia!,” utro.ru
reported on 12 July.
The picketers also demanded that the Ukrainian authorities
expel Russian consultants — particularly Marat Gelman. Gelman, a
former deputy general director at ORT, most recently organized the
surprisingly successful election effort of the Motherland party in
Russia’s 2003 State Duma race. Pavlovskii is perhaps best known
for his role in shaping Unity’s message during the State Duma
elections in 1999. He has also taken credit for creating Vladimir
Putin’s image. Another Russian political consultant who is
sparking interest in Ukraine is Igor Shuvalov (not to be confused
with Russian presidential aide Igor Shuvalov). Consultant Shuvalov is
better known in Ukraine than in Russia and works for the Ukrainian
presidential administration. Shuvalov has reportedly authored many of
the “temnyky,” or secret written instructions, issued by the
presidential administration to media outlets regarding their coverage
— or noncoverage — of certain news events. In addition, according
to opposition website “Ukrayinska pravda” on 16 June (see “RFE/RL
Newsline,” 17 October 2002). A Ukrainian branch of Pavlovskii’s
Effective Politics Foundation has also reportedly played a key role
in the invention and distribution of temnyky.
The October ballot is not the first Ukrainian election in
which Russian spin doctors have taken part. They had a relatively
high profile during the 2002 campaign for the Verkhovna Rada,
although some Ukrainian political activists have questioned their
effectiveness in that race. In an interview with “Kommersant-Daily”
on 5 July, Our Ukraine lawmaker Mykola Tomenko said that Gelman
worked for the pro-government Social Democratic Party-united (SPDU-o)
during the 2002 race. Gelman and Pavlovskii, according to Tomenko,
promised that they would secure 10 percent of the total votes for
SDPU-o but managed to get only 6.3 percent. Shuvalov, together with
Petr Shchedrovitskii, worked on the campaign for Winter Crop
Generation, which finished with even just 2.02 percent of the vote,
according to “Ukrayinska pravda” on 16 June. Shchedrovitskii is
perhaps best known for his work consulting presidential envoy to the
Volga Federal District and former co-leader of the Union of Rightist
Forces (SPS) Sergei Kirienko.
In this year’s presidential election, the top contenders
are Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Our Ukraine leader Viktor
Yushchenko. Gelman, Pavlovskii, and Shuvalov are all reportedly
working for Yanukovych. In a press conference in Moscow on 1 July,
Pavlovskii denied that he is working for any candidate in Ukraine.
However, he severely criticized Yushchenko in remarks that were
picked up by a variety of Russian and Ukrainian media outlets. He
said that a “victory for Yushchenko could be seen as a victory for
Western Ukraine over Eastern Ukraine, something that is dangerous for
the country itself,” “Nezavisimaya gazeta” reported on 2 July.
Pavlovskii added that if Russia wants to see chaos in the former
Soviet Union, then it should back Yushchenko, “a weak man and a
politician who is being controlled, who is lacking in independence
and who will take society toward disintegration, first politically,
and then perhaps, territorially.”
In an interview with Hromadske Radio in Kyiv on 19 May,
Gelman too denied that he is working as anything other than an
art-gallery owner during his stay in the Ukrainian capital. However
he, like Pavlovskii, has an opinion about the race. He said that “my
personal position is that if Yushchenko becomes president, I will
consider it a personal defeat. But I have no clients here.” Later in
the same interview, when queried about the poor performance of his
clients in the 2002 elections, Gelman insisted that “the
customer-contractor relationship is very intimate one, and
conclusions about whether a political consultant has fulfilled his
task can be drawn based on whether he continues his relationship with
his clients. I can state in this respect that I have not lost any
major clients either in Russia or here in Ukraine.” Therefore, if
Viktor Medvedchuk, SPDU-o leader and presidential-administration
chief, can be considered “major,” then apparently Gelman still works
for him.
Despite their denials, the perception that Gelman and
Pavlovskii are involved in the election persists. In an interview
with RBK on 5 July, Kirill Frolov, director of the Ukraine department
at the Institute for CIS Countries, went so far as to characterize
Gelman’s strategy for Yanukovych. He said that Gelman is
rejecting the use of the resources of the Russian Orthodox Church in
the campaign and is instead trying to create a “carnival-like”
Yushchenko’s supporters have accused Gelman and
Pavlovskii of using “black public relations” against Yushchenko. In
comments published by Ekspert-tsentr on 5 July, Tomenko implied that
Yanukovych’s campaign is using “unprincipled methods” against
Yushchenko. He noted the broken windows at the Russian Cultural
Center in Lviv and the meetings of Ukrainian National
Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO) where fascist
symbols were used in support of Yushchenko. An article in “Moskovskii
komsomolets” on 16 July linked a public rally held by the
ultranationalist Ukrainian National Assembly in Kyiv’s central
square with Yanukovych’s headquarters and with Pavlovskii and
Gelman in particular, calling the gathering “Gelmanjudend.” The
daily, which cited no sources, commented: “The question is: Why
should a democratically minded, pan-national candidate initiate such
a threat, when only a silovik no one currently knows can benefit?
There is absolutely no sense in it.”
It should perhaps be noted that consultants sometimes will
not only orchestrate an public event, but will also arrange to have
articles published about it, and they will sometimes arrange for a
trick against their own candidate that can be blamed on the campaign
of the opposition or be used to generate voter sympathy.
It could be argued that the protests against the Russian spin
doctors help rather than hurt their cause, since presumably no one
would object to their presence if they were completely ineffectual.
In comments to “Politicheskii zhurnal,” No. 24, Andrei Konovalov,
president of the Institute for Strategic Evaluations and Analysis,
joined his Ukrainian counterparts in criticizing the presence of
Gelman, Pavlovskii, and others, saying that all they can create are
Konovalov concluded that regardless of whether Yanukovych or
Yushchenko is elected president, the general direction of Ukraine
will be the same: toward the West. “The basic tendency of foreign
policy in Ukraine is a movement toward the West, a striving for
integration into European structures and NATO,” he said. “Whoever
wins the election, this situation will not change.” Vladimir
Zharikhin, deputy director of the Institute for CIS Countries,
agreed, noting that the fundamental relationship between Russia and
Ukraine will not change “cardinally” under either candidate. “In the
end, the Donetsk group, to which Yanukovych belongs, has its own
interests which frequently diverge from those of Russian businesses,”
he added.
To combat Ukraine’s drift toward the West, Konovalov
suggests that rather than importing Russian “political technologies,”
Russian enterprises should engage in a gradual but relentless
penetration of Ukraine’s energy complex, so that “Russian
businesses control the Ukrainian economy.” It is possible that
Konovalov’s suggested strategy is already being implemented, and
the push to elect Yanukovych is simply a supplementary effort rather
than a competing one.



By Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Russian media, especially Kremlin-controlled television which
is viewed widely in Russia and neighboring states, is instrumental in
promoting President Vladimir Putin’s policies for the former
Soviet Union and in maintaining Russian hegemony over the
“information space” of the CIS and in securing Russian geopolitical
objectives in the region. With a far more professional and
wide-reaching television system than in the Soviet era, in part
enhanced by Western investment and training, Russia now has a subtle
— sometimes, not-so-subtle — means of covering the news and views
of the region, and of shaping that news to its own ends.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is featured virtually every
evening on prime-time television, as concerned about Russian-language
textbooks in Latvia as he is about evacuating Russian energy workers
from Iraq following terrorist attacks. Breaking with diplomatic
protocol, Putin is shown rushing in person to the airport to greet
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and listen to him praise
Russia’s new emergency-rescue planes.
But it was to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma that Putin
granted his very first long, televised conversation immediately after
his March re-election, opening with a friendly suggestion to “take a
walk after dinner and then come over to my house for tea and
we’ll chat.” Comradely moments like that perhaps remove the sting
of the publicly televised humiliation Putin dealt Ukraine when he
remonstrated leaders for thinking they could live off any kind of
exports other than beets and when extracted the prime-time admission
from Kuchma, who is often courted by the West, that the CIS “cannot
look out to sea for the weather to be made” from the European Union,
but must make it themselves in the CIS.
Carefully staged meetings with CIS leaders are given ample
airtime on the official RTR and other stations and are designed to
shape the views of millions of Russians in the Russian Federation and
the mindset of millions of Russian-speakers in the near abroad. The
coverage from Moscow influences their thinking about local elections
and regional issues.
The power of this electronic reach might not be immediately
evident, but it is amply demonstrated by incidents such as
Minsk’s shut-off of Russian programming during politically
delicate moments and battles in Central Asia over frequencies for
certain Russian programs. Pictures, as they say, always speak 1,000
words. When a record nine CIS presidents came to Moscow in early
July, Putin took the first three — Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev,
Kyrgyzstan’s Askar Akaev, and Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili
— to the Bolshoi Theater. The message is not only about the
ostensible superiority of Russian culture or the closeness of ties
with CIS allies, but the age-old practice of supplicants needing to
make their way to the top to solve their problems.
Negative coverage on prime-time Russian television can have a
devastating effect. For months, the Ukrainian parliament was
portrayed as uncouth and undemocratic, wrecking voting equipment.
Never was there any discussion about whether an abrupt switch away
from popularly electing the president to having the parliament select
him was a threat to democracy. When candidates began to register for
the presidential election this week, RTR focused on the antics of
Brotherhood candidate Dmitrii Kolchunskii and his entourage, who
rolled up to the Central Election Commission in armored vehicles, and
on a frenzied support rally of his followers. By contrast, a
safety-suited Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was shown threading
his way among steelworkers at a blast furnace in Dniepropetrovsk,
waxing reminiscent about having first met his wife at a steel plant,
and still appearing later that evening crisp and cool to sing a
romantic duet with Ukraine’s celebrated Ruslana on stage before
screaming fans.
Not that Russian television is above playing the democracy
card when necessary. During the chilly winter months when Russian gas
companies were shutting off the pipelines to Belarus over payment
disputes, RTR featured scenes of urbane Russian energy officials
speaking ironically about President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, contrasted
with the sputterings of a clownish Lukashenka and, later, his
about-face on paying market rates for natural gas. And suddenly, RTR,
ORT, and other Russian media outlets found time for the Belarusian
opposition, featuring demonstrations and speaking in sympathetic
tones of beaten activists and expelled journalists. But as soon as
the energy deals were settled, coverage of the Belarusian opposition
dried up.
Nonetheless, Lukashenka’s recent announcement that he is
willing to seek a third presidential term “if the people allow him to
run” proved too much for Russian television. “The Belarusian leader
refers to himself in the third person,” dryly cracked RTR’s
Mikhail Antonov in the set-up to unflattering scenes of
Lukashenka’s populist claims of public support for violating the
While Russian television and newspapers already have a great
influence in the near abroad, lately the Kremlin appears almost
panicked about what Putin called the danger of the “erosion” of
Russian interests in the CIS. In an unprecedented move, the topic of
the CIS was placed on the agenda of the Security Council as a matter
of national defense, with Kremlin-access television camera operators
on hand to witness the choreographed discussion, replete with
tanned-and-rested Muscovite bureaucrats and pale CIS representatives
in Moscow hanging their heads. Stern calls were made to open Russian
cultural centers throughout the CIS and step up Russian-language
Within minutes into the news hour that same day, Kremlin
political consultant Gleb Pavlovskii was featured in Kyiv opening up
a Russian club and taking questions from Ukrainian journalists about
Russian influence on the Ukrainian presidential election. “What, some
Russian citizen will come here and start handing out ratings??” fumed
Pavlovskii, coquettishly discounting the possibility. “They’ll
kick him out.”
To be sure, Russian television and print media, which are far
freer than most local CIS media, are a boon for local democrats. Yet
their coverage on Russian television is decidedly mixed.
Georgia’s President Saakashvili is unabashedly compared with
Hitler in teaser ads for strana.ru, and even the smallest street
vendors’ demonstration is played up to look like proof of the
alleged “ungovernable” nature of Caucasians. Demonstrators in Yerevan
are shown mainly overturning cars or setting fires. By contrast,
Armenian President Robert Kocharian is invited to Moscow to give a
sober soliloquy in a lengthy pan on RTR about why stability and trust
in his government should prevail over disgruntled activists
complaining about election corruption.
Far out of proportion to their size and actual importance to
Russia’s security concerns is coverage of the Baltic states. Many
weeks, the nightly news features demonstrations, alternately, of
veterans alleged to be Nazi collaborators and students angry about
language requirements in Latvia, or stories about Estonia’s
recent announcement that Russian university diplomas must be
certified by national education offices. Estonia’s move, said to
be in keeping with its European Union commitments, was juxtaposed on
RTR with a similar move by Turkmenistan not to recognize Russian
Turkmenistan comes in for hot-and-cold coverage, depending on
the state of negotiations about the status of Russians there.
Sometimes President Sapurmurat Niyazov is called “Turkmenbashi” and
portrayed unflatteringly in scenes reminiscent of Soviet dictator
Josef Stalin, with thousands of dancing children paying homage to
their beloved leader. On other occasions, he is shown as an important
trade partner and placed in artificially flattering settings, such as
at his desk in his library, enthusing about how he has had domestic
architects copy designs from St. Petersburg. Any subscriber to the
top oil newsletters in the region following the status of various
energy deals between Russia and the near abroad could probably fairly
accurately determine the temperature of coverage of this or that CIS
state in that week’s news on Russian television.
Ashgabat recently shut down Russia’s Mayak radio station,
but then promised this week to restore it, leaving it unclear whether
the closure was a demonstration of muscle-flexing or the consequence
of a technical breakdown. Some other CIS leaders have instituted
requirements for percentages of domestic content in native languages,
in part to counter Moscow’s influence.
When terrorists attacked in Uzbekistan in March, Russian
media gave saturation coverage to the bombings and the police raids
to capture the suspects — more coverage than local television did.
Indeed, Russian media have generally covered terrorism around the
world more intensely than some regional media and have been an
alternative source of information for CIS populations. Usually the
responsibility or negligence of CIS governments is not the focus of
the coverage, however, and usually some sort of link is made between
domestic resistance movements and international terrorism movements.
Often, what little can be gleaned in the way of hypotheses for
various terrorist attacks comes from the Russian media, particularly
from websites with breaking news.
The media also accomplish by silence or evasion what they
cannot accomplish by propagandistic set pieces. Little is seen, for
example, about the drug trade in Tajikistan or Tajik migrant laborers
on television, although newspapers have been somewhat bolder in
covering their plight.
Whether through distorted images or the absence of accurate
coverage, the Russian media will continue to have a far-reaching
impact on governments and publics throughout the CIS. It is an era in
which broadcast images with the right spin and setting will prove
more powerful than armies or missiles because they are capable of
reaching people’s hearts and minds instantly.



By Jeremy Bransten

President Vladimir Putin fired on 19 July the chief of the
General Staff, Army General Anatolii Kvashnin, along with three other
top military commanders. Few in Russia’s military are sorry to
see Kvashnin leave.
Moscow-based military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer called
Kvashnin “the most hated general in the Russian military,” according
to “The New York Times.” He has now been replaced by his deputy,
Colonel General Yurii Baluevskii, a man who is far more respected.
Kvashnin is most closely associated with Russia’s two
ill-fated wars in Chechnya and especially the 1994-95 winter
offensive aimed at taking Grozny, which ended in catastrophe and cost
the lives of hundreds of Russian soldiers. That has not made him
popular with the rank and file. Kvashnin’s bureaucratic battles
with the Defense Ministry over control of military planning have also
earned him the dislike of the top brass.
Now, the Defense Ministry appears to have won the upper hand
as Russia enters another phase of its military restructuring.
Although many analysts point to last month’s deadly raid
in Ingushetia as the catalyst for the dismissal of Kvashnin and three
top military commanders for the North Caucasus region, the shake-up
appears to be the result of a long-term plan.
Kvashnin’s dismissal follows adoption of a law that cut
the powers of the General Staff and reduced it to a department of the
Defense Ministry that will function as an advisory group responsible
for strategic planning. For years, the two institutions had existed
as rival centers of power and fought a tug-of-war over operational
control of Russia’s armed forces.
Those opposing Kvashnin accused him of being stuck in the
past, actively undermining efforts to transform the military into a
smaller, more technologically advanced force.
Moscow-based military analyst Aleksandr Golts told RFE/RL
that Kvashnin was ill suited for the General Staff’s new role, so
in this respect his replacement by Baluevskii makes sense. “The
Russian General Staff is being excluded from the chain of operational
command of the armed forces and will have to concentrate exclusively
on strategic planning,” according to Golts. “[In this regard,]
Anatolii Kvashnin was the least suitable person, due to his
intellect, for any kind of planning. His first deputy, Yurii
Baluevskii, has demonstrated his great analytical skills and that he
is capable of such tasks. So, at first glance, everything appears
very logical.”
The problem, according to Golts, is that the newly positioned
General Staff is set to operate in a vacuum. Reforms at the lower
levels have not been carried out, meaning that a system of regional
commands — which could provide input for the General Staff’s
strategic planning — simply does not exist. “[For example,] the
Americans plan their operations in these commands,” he said. “The
entire war against Iraq was planned in the Central Command. In
Russia, the role of the commands is performed by the military
districts. But they do not have the ability to plan because their
main duty is the mobilization of reservists in case of war. That is
what they are trained to do. They cannot take on operational
planning. This is just one of many questions that come up when you
analyze how this new General Staff is supposed to perform.”
Golts says this latest reshuffle is symptomatic of the way
military reform is being carried out in Russia, which is from the top
down, exactly in the wrong order. “In my view, what is happening with
the General Staff is similar to the decision to create several
rapid-reaction units made up of professional, contract soldiers. The
idea is correct, but it is introduced as a first step when instead it
should come as the final decision after a series of complicated
reforms. So the decision is made without the requisite preparation.
One can assume that it is done out of naivety or on purpose, so that
the military brass — after a period of time — can approach the
president and tell him: ‘Esteemed commander in chief, this is not
working out. This [reform] is not right for Russia.'”
One thing is clear, however. When it comes to Russia’s
troubles in the North Caucasus, no amount of military reshuffles will
end the prolonged war in Chechnya, as Yurii Baluevskii himself
indicated in an interview with RFE/RL two months ago. “How do you
take away a machine gun from a young man who has held it for 10 or 12
years?” he said. “How do you make him work, till the land, sell
goods? This is a problem. And there is no military solution. The only
solution is an economic recovery [in Chechnya], employment of the
population, education.”
Whether Putin — who gives the orders — sees it this way is
another question.


IN: President Putin on 19 July named Colonel General
Yurii Baluevskii chief of the General Staff, RIA-Novosti and other
Russian media reported. Baluevskii, who previously served as first
deputy chief of the General Staff, replaced Army General Anatolii
Kvashnin, who was dismissed earlier the same day. RIA-Novosti also
reported on 19 July that Colonel General Aleksandr Belousov has been
named first deputy defense minister.

UP: President Putin on 12 July named Andrei Denisov as
Russia’s ambassador to the UN and its representative on the UN
Security Council. Denisov was most recently a deputy foreign minister
in charge of foreign economic policy, according to “Profil,” No. 27.
Denisov replaces Sergei Lavrov, who was named foreign minister in

RESHUFFLED: First Deputy Foreign Minister Valerii Loshchinin
will remain Foreign Minister Lavrov’s only first deputy foreign
minister, while Lavrov’s second first deputy, Vyacheslav
Trubnikov, will now serve as ambassador to India, Russian media
reported on 13 July. Another former first deputy foreign minister,
Eleonora Mitrofanova, will now head the ministry’s new Agency for
Relations with Russians Abroad. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Razov
was named ambassador to China, and special presidential adviser on
Caspian affairs with the rank of deputy foreign minister Viktor
Kalyuzhnyi will serve as the new ambassador to Latvia.

IN: Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has named Andrei
Dolgorukov as Russia’s trade representative to the United States,
replacing Mikhail Barkov. Dolgorukov most recently headed the
Americas department of the Economic Development and Trade Ministry,
“Rodnaya gazeta,” No. 27, reported.

OUT: Prime Minister Fradkov dismissed Nikolai Gusev from his
post as deputy property relations minister; Petr Sadovnik as deputy
natural resources minister; and Ilya Budnitskii and Valerii
Sirozhenko as deputy media ministers, “Kommersant-Daily” reported on
17 and 14 July.


22 July: Cabinet will discuss plan for privatization of state
property in 2005
22 July: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari will visit
24 July: Aeroflot shareholders meeting will elect new board
of directors
29 July: Celebration honoring the 250th anniversary of the
birth of Saint Serafim of Sarov will be held in Nizhnii Novgorod
31 July: State Duma will hold a special session
1 August: Deadline for the Finance Ministry to present its
draft 2005 budget to the government
3 August: State Duma will hold a special session
8 August: Supreme Court will consider an appeal by Pavel
Zaitsev, the special police investigator who headed a high-profile
corruption probe into the Grand and Tri Kita furniture stores and who
was found guilty of exceeding the authority of his office
12 August: Fourth anniversary of the sinking of the “Kursk”
nuclear submarine
12-15 August: BMW Russian Open Golf Tournament in Moscow
13-29 August: Russian athletes will participate in the Summer
Olympics in Greece
23 August: The trial of the accused murderers of State Duma
Deputy Galina Starovoitova will reopen
26 August: Deadline for the government to submit its draft
2005 budget to the State Duma
29 August: Presidential elections will be held in Chechnya
September: St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum plans
to open the Hermitage Center, which will exhibit works from the
Hermitage’s collection, in the city of Kazan
15-18 September: The third International Conference of Mayors
of World Cities will be held in Moscow
20 September: The State Duma’s fall session will begin
October: President Putin will visit China
October: International forum of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference will be held in Moscow
7 October: President Putin’s birthday
23-26 October: Second anniversary of the Moscow theater
hostage crisis
25 October: First anniversary of Yukos head
Khodorkovskii’s arrest at an airport in Novosibirsk
31 October: Presidential election in Ukraine
November: Gubernatorial election in Pskov Oblast
20 November: Sixth anniversary of the killing of State Duma
Deputy Galina Starovoitova
22 November: President Putin to visit Brazil
December: A draft law on toll roads will be submitted to the
Russian government, according to the Federal Highways Agency’s
Construction Department on 6 April
December: Gubernatorial elections in Bryansk, Kamchatka,
Ulyanovsk, and Ivanovo oblasts
29 December: State Duma’s fall session will come to a
1 February 2005: Former President Boris Yeltsin’s 74th
March 2005: Gubernatorial election in Saratov Oblast

Copyright (c) 2004. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.

The “RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly” is prepared by Julie A. Corwin
on the basis of a variety of sources. It is distributed every

Direct comments to Julie A. Corwin at [email protected].
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